Corner­stone ad­vances to re­gional fi­nal

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Front Page - By Nate Barnes NBarnes@news-her­ @NateBar­nes_ on Twit­ter

CAN­TON » Corner­stone Chris­tian drove its fi­nal nail into Rittman’s chances of win­ning early in the fourth quar­ter. The se­quence typ­i­fied the Pa­tri­ots’ pro­gram.

The In­di­ans sliced Corner­stone’s lead to sin­gle dig­its early in the pe­riod. Af­ter Ricky Adams’ layup, Jeremy Owens picked up Rittman point guard William Swartz as soon as he re­ceived the en­su­ing in­bound pass.

Owens cut Swartz off to his left, then Swartz drove up­court to his right as Owens, at­tached to Swartz’s hip, ha­rassed him. Owens knocked the ball loose and Michael Both­well laid out to try to wran­gle a loose ball.

Titus Wheeler in­stead came up with the ball, drove up­court and made the ex­tra pass to Both­well for a layup.

Both­well’s layup ex­tended the Corner­stone lead to dou­ble dig­its and forced a Rittman time­out. The In­di­ans drew no closer as the Pa­tri­ots de­feated Rittman, 56-41, in a Di­vi­sion IV Can­ton Re­gional semi­fi­nal at Can­ton Field­house on March 13.

The state­ment play de­liv­ered the ef­fect Corner­stone hoped it would at the be­gin­ning of the quar­ter.

– Corner­stone Chris­tian guard Michael Both­well “We wanted to be able to pres­sure them and let them know this game was go­ing to be over quick.”

The Pa­tri­ots led, 40-30, at the start of the fourth and af­ter a 3-pointer drew Rittman within seven, Corner­stone wanted to erase any in­cli­na­tion of a rally by ex­tend­ing its lead back to dou­ble-dig­its.

“You’re low-key feel­ing like the game is over with,” Both­well said. “We wanted to do the same thing since we were in a pos­i­tive po­si­tion. We wanted to take the air out of their chest. We wanted to be able to pres­sure them and let them know this game was go­ing to be over quick.”

Both­well led all scor­ers with 22 points. Kendall Saun­ders added 14 for the Pa­tri­ots, who ad­vance to a D-IV Can­ton Re­gional fi­nal March 16 against Mans­field St. Peter’s.

Both­well scored seven points in the first quar­ter to give Corner­stone a 13-9 lead. The Pa­tri­ots led by 10, 27-17, af­ter a pair of layups from Saun­ders be­fore Rittman cut its deficit to five, 27-22, at half­time.

The In­di­ans re­mained within strik­ing dis­tance via their 3-point shoot­ing. Kaleb Bau­man and Con­nor Stu­art each made a pair of 3-point­ers in the first half. Andy Wey­brecht and Corner­stone’s coaches em­pha­sized im­proved com­mu­ni­ca­tion to pre­vent clean looks from the perime­ter in the sec­ond half.

“We did a much bet­ter job talk­ing through screens in the sec­ond half,” Wey­brecht said. “They got some open ones off missed com­mu­ni­ca­tions, or lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tions, prob­a­bly. We did a lot bet­ter job of that in the sec­ond half and made their shots a lit­tle bit tougher on him.”

A Both­well dunk fol­lowed Mar­tel Fer­rell’s cor­ner 3 to give Corner­stone a 12-point lead late in the third be­fore Rittman’s tipin beat the buzzer. Evan Ringer’s 3-pointer drew the In­di­ans within seven, 40-33, be­fore the Pa­tri­ots’ de­fense cracked Rittman.

“They’re ath­letic and they’re dis­ci­plined,” Rittman coach Chad Bever said. “When you mix that ath­leti­cism with that type of dis­ci­pline and coach­ing, that’s a great recipe for suc­cess.”

Bau­man led the In­di­ans with 16 points, and Stu­art chipped in 10.

Corner­stone lim­ited the ef­fec­tive­ness of 6-foot-10 cen­ter Justin Flais­man, pri­mar­ily be­hind Saun­ders’ ef­fort. The Pa­tri­ots’ coach­ing staff stressed the need for Corner­stone’s de­fend­ers to beat Flais­man down the floor and pre­vent him from es­tab­lish­ing po­si­tion in the post.

“That comes with our speed,” Wey­brecht said. “Our big guys can run the floor. They wanted to beat him to the block and not let him get that spot. Force him to be six feet and out in or­der to have to catch the ball out there. We felt he couldn’t make as many plays if he did that.”

When the Pa­tri­ots’ de­fense el­e­vated its per­for­mance in the fourth quar­ter, Corner­stone ex­tended its lead to a peak of 19 points.

“De­fense is our main pri­or­ity,” Saun­ders said. “Our of­fense flows through our de­fense so if we get stops, then we get buck­ets. That’s how we play, pres­sure them on de­fense, run in tran­si­tion, easy lays, maybe a tran­si­tion 3 here and there. That’s what we do.”


Corner­stone’s Michael Both­well, left, and Kendall Saun­ders con­fer dur­ing the Pa­tri­ots’ Di­vi­sion IV re­gional semi­fi­nal win March 13 at Can­ton Field­house.


Corner­stone’s Kendall Saun­ders drives to the bas­ket against Rittman on March 13 dur­ing a Di­vi­sion IV re­gional semi­fi­nal at Can­ton Field­house.

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