Brooke storms back for big win at Big Red
Bruins erase 19-point deficit as Isinghood reached 1,000-point milestone
STEUBENVILLE — Early in the third quarter of Friday night’s game, Brooke standout senior Alex Isinghood reached the 1,000-career point mark.
What mattered more to him in that moment, however, was the fact his team was losing the game, and he was on a mission to stop that from happening.
Isinghood netted nine of his game-high 29 points in the fourth quarter to help the Bruins rally from what had been a 19-point deficit before halftime to stun Big Red, 55-50, in front of a large crowd inside the Crimson Center.
“That is probably our biggest win in my two years here,” Brooke coach Adam Shinsky said. “It has been a long time since Brooke won here. We just didn’t quit. I am so proud of these guys.”
Shinsky was thrilled to see his standout reach the milestone — and even happier it was in a win.
“I am so proud of him,” he said. “He didn’t care (when it happened), he told me would rather have 17 boards and us win the game than score 17 points (to reach the milestone in a loss).
“People from the outside told me when I got here, he was a good scorer, but he was uncoachable. He has been the most tremendous leader for our team. He is a weight room machine, the young guys see the work he puts in and the results.”
Isinghood also pulled down eight rebounds and made three shots from beyond the arc.
“That was crazy, it was the most intense game I’ve ever played in, in my life,” Isinghood said. “It has been my goal since I was little to score 1,000 points.”
After Big Red led 21-15 at the end of one, everything seemed to be going the hosts’ way as Steubenville (7-6) pushed the advantage to 34-15.
Isininghood netted a bucket to stop the bleeding, then he and Cole Sperlazza each nailed triples late in the quarter to make it an 8-0 Bruins run and cut the hole to 34-23 at the break, where Shinsky said he challenged his team.
“We went into the locker room and we don’t like screaming and yelling, but we had to scream and yell to challenge our guys,” Shinsky said. “We were just flat, everything that happened bad you could see in our faces, we weren’t sprinting back (in the first half). We knew what they were going to do, we thought the zone would give (Big Red) some trouble, but we knew we couldn’t give up the loose balls and the offensive rebounds, and that’s what we did.
“it’s tough to be down like that, especially when you’re playing against guys like (Phaeton) Hill and (Brenten) Jones, who are probably two of the best all-around athletes in the Valley.
“We weren’t attacking the zone, we were just looking not to turn the ball over. Sometimes we play not to lose instead of playing to win, and that doesn’t cut it. The guys caught on (in the second half) and I think that is the last time I have to have that discussion with them.”
The momentum from those late shots carried over, as Isinghood made a couple early shots and reached the milestone, but Big Red pushed the lead back to as many as 13 with a Brenten Jones slam dunk with 3:30 to go in the third.
Those two points ended up being Jones only markers in the second half after netting 11 in the first two quarters, though. He did finish with 16 rebounds.
Brooke, however, was not deterred as Sperlazza connected for an old-fashioned three-point play and Isinghood again made a late shot to cut it to an eight-point deficit after three at 42-34.
Then, the Bruins offense went off, out-scoring Steubenville 21-8 in the final quarter.
Isinghood quickly cut the deficit to six with the first bucket of the fourth, before a Jason Varner two-and-one answered a Big Red bucket to cut the deficit to five.
Phaeton Hill, who finished tied for the team lead with 13 points for Big Red, traded buckets with Brooke a couple of times in the fourth to preserve a shrinking lead, but Sperlazza and Isinghood drained 3s on back-to-back possessions to give the Bruins the lead at 49-48 with 2:46 remaining — and they would not surrender it.
“It is a tough one,” Big Red head coach Mike Haney said. “We played a great first half … the second half we turned the ball over 16 times in the second half and you can’t do that. Turnovers killed us and they hit some big shots.
“They have some good shooters. Isinghood was on fire, Sperlazza can shoot and they both hit some big shots to cut the lead down and overtake us in the fourth quarter.
Isinghood pushed the advantage to three with 1:50 to go, then Hill made a shot to get Big Red back within one at 51-50, but that ended up being the last shot the hosts would make.
“The momentum is nice when you have it, but it is tough to get back when you don’t,” Haney said. “it just seemed like the momentum just kept going the other way. We would get a stop, then have a turnover, or they would miss a shot, but then they get a long rebound and hit the next shot.”
Varner missed a free throw and Big Red’s Ivan Buggs grabbed the rebound to give Steubenville the ball and chance to take the lead inside the final minute, but a Hill shot didn’t fall as the clock ticked under 30 seconds to go and Sperlazza grabbed the rebound.
He was fouled, then made both shots from the line to make it 53-50, then he got a steal to thwart Big Red’s last-ditch effort before Ryan Knox sunk a pair of foul shots with 4.9 seconds left to seal the deal.
“Everyone was all over the floor in the second half,” Shinsky said. “When one guy picks it up, everyone just follows. We didn’t lose the 50-50 battles, we didn’t lose the loose balls, we got more possessions and that is what it takes to beat Big Red.”
The win is the second time in a week the Bruins avenged a loss from earlier in the season, as Big Red defeated the Bruins in the first meeting at Brooke, 56-41, to hand the Bruins their first loss. Last Friday, the Bruins took down John Marshall at home, who had also defeated them earlier in the season.
Sperlazza connected three times from beyond the arc and finished with 16 points, while Isinghood pulled down eight rebounds
“Cole goes against teams’ best defenders every night and guys that are usually 3-4 inches taller than him and he just keeps going to the basket hard,” Shinsky said. “Cole and Alex are our leaders.
Brooke: Was set to travel to Martins Ferry on Saturday before visiting rival Weir High on Tuesday night.
Big Red: Will look to bounce back Tuesday night when Indian Creek pays a visit to the Crimson Center in a rematch of last season’s sectional contest that was decided in overtime.
Brooke 55, Big Red 50
Brooke 15-8-11-21 – 55
Big Red 21-13-8-8 – 50
BROOKE (7-4): Taylor 0 0-0 0; Knox 2 2-2 7; Isinghood 13 0-0 29; Sperlazza 4 5-5 16; Varner 1 1-2 3; Marks 0 0-0 0; Sperringer 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 20, 8-9; 55.
BIG RED (7-6): Hill 5 2-2 13; Buggs 4 1-1 9; Pierce 2 0-0 5; Jones 6 1-2 13; Vostatek 2 0-2 4; Lewis 3 0-0 6. TOTALS: 22, 4-7; 50.
3-POINT GOALS: Brooke 7 (Isinghood 3, Sperlazza 3, Knox); Big Red 2 (Hill, Pierce).