On Monday, the Roughriders watched a 20-point lead in the second quarter dwindle to six, just 40 seconds into the third quarter.
But Western Reserve ran off the next 24 points, taking a 80-62 Firelands Conference victory over the Mounties. The win kept the ‘Riders (12-4, 11-0) alone in first place atop the FC.
"Holding them to one shot and out was key there," Western Reserve coach Chris Sheldon said. "We did not put them at the foul line. We came down and made shots consistently. We made the extra pass."
A 3-pointer by Calvin Vermilya cut the Western Reserve lead to 46-40, but the next score for the Mounties came with four seconds left in the quarter and the deficit was 70-40.
"We had to get back to what we were doing in the first quarter," Sheldon said. "That was getting the ball going downhill and we had to have action off of it."
Aiden Markley scored before JJ Weisenberger stole a pass and laid it in to start the run. A driving layup by John Skrada coupled with a 3 from Jude Muenz pushed the lead to 56-40. Weisenberger scored off of an offensive rebound before Mapleton (5-13, 2-9) called timeout.
The timeout did little to slow the 'Riders offense. Muenz burried a triple before Markley added two free throws. Hayden Huntington scored down low, Markley hit a 3, and Skrada's putback finished off the near-perfect onslaught by Western Reserve.
Meanwhile, the Mounties missed the final 10 shots they took in the third quarter and committed five turnovers. Only Logan Pharmer splitting two free throws off of a WR technical foul got Mapleton on the board again in the third quarter.
"We let them get a lot of clean looks in the second quarter," Sheldon said. "I thought in the third quarter, we were either turning them over with good ball pressure or we were making them take contested shots."
Despite the 30-point deficit, the Mounties continued to play hard, showing signs of the play from the second quarter. Mapleton strung together a 15-2 run over 5:41 to get within 72-55.
"That does not concern me," Sheldon said. "We were trying some different combinations and that is what you want to be able to do in games like this. We missed four layups in the process."
But it was too much offense from Western Reserve on this night. The 'Riders have only scored more than 70 points four times this season, but two of those have come against Mapleton after a 87-55 win on Dec. 14.
"When you have the advantage, top to bottom from a talent standpoint, you want more possessions in a basketball game," Sheldon said. "Those teams wanted to play at that pace and we encourage that."
Adam Shadd opened the game's scoring for the Mounties, but Western Reserve responded with the next eight points. Later, the lead was 11-6 when the 'Riders ran off 13 straight points — capped on scores from Weisenberger and Luke Wyers - for a 24-6 lead.
The 3-point shooting of Western Reserve carried the offense for most of the first half. The 'Riders connected on 10 of 18 3s in the first half.
But despite WR opening a 32-12 lead on a Weisenberger 3-pointer less than 90 seconds into the second quarter, Mapleton fought back. The Mounties scored the next seven points and put together a 14-2 run to draw within 37-26.
"We started to stand and settle along the 3-point line," Sheldon said. "We are going to shoot a lot of 3s, but we can not have five guys standing at the 3-point line and everybody watching. There are nine guys on the bench that can sit and watch for us."
Luke Rowlinson hit consecutive 3s for the 'Riders and later, a triple from Markely pushed the lead to 46-34. Mapleton stole some more momentum when Vermilya connected on a 3-pointer, bringing the Mounties back within nine points at halftime.
"I thought in the second quarter when they got back into it a bit, we let the ball stick," Sheldon said. "We were standing and watching. We are at our best when the ball and bodies are moving. The hardest thing to guard in the game of basketball is movement. When the ball has a tendency to stick, we have the tendency to stand."
Rowlinson hit five of Western Reserve's 13 3s en route to 19 points. Weisenberger tallied 17 points and six rebounds while Markley and Skrada each added 12 points.
"That is the way we have been all year," Sheldon said. "Anybody that looks at our team is going to think we have a guy that scores 20 points consistently and that is not our make-up right now. Our make-up is body movement, ball movement, and share the rock."
The 'Riders, who held a 36-27 rebound edge, return to action Friday at St. Paul (12-5, 8-3). The ‘Riders won the first meeting, 68-66, on a last-second 3 by Rowlinson.
W. RESERVE (12-4, 11-0)
Luke Wyers 2-0—4, JJ Weisenberger 7-0—17, John Skrada 5-1—12, Aiden Markley 4-2—12, Luke Rowlinson 7-0—19, Cory Hipp 1-0—2, Jude Muenz 3-0—8, Hayden Huntington 3-0—6. TOTALS 32-3—80.
MAPLETON (5-13, 2-9)
Adam Shadd 4-0—8, Gage Scurlock 0-1—1, Logan Pharmer 2-3—8, Austin Sanders 5-8—19, Travis DuBois 1-0—2, Calvin Vermilya 6-0—17, Cameron Sloter 2-0—4, Jake Ziegler 1-1—3. TOTALS 21-13—62.
W. Reserve 24 22 24 10 — 80
Mapleton 10 27 4 21 — 62
3-point FGs: (WR) Rowlinson 5, Weisenberger 3, Markley 2, Muenz 2, Skrada; (M) Vermilya 5, Parmer, Sanders