by Logan Chuppa
STRONGSVILLE, OHIO– The Strongsville Mustangs boys’ basketball team fell to the Euclid Panthers on Friday, 67-56.
Despite grabbing an early lead, the Mustangs were unable to sustain their early success. The Mustangs’ matchup zone forced Euclid into some early turnovers, and Strongsville had offensive success against Euclid’s half court man-to-man defense, leading to a 19-15 Mustang lead at the end of the first quarter.
Euclid increased their pressure in the second quarter, as they picked the Mustangs up in a full-court press, which forced the Mustangs into six turnovers in the period. Euclid jumped out to an 8-0 run to begin the quarter, erasing Strongsville’s early lead. Euclid’s full-court pressure, combined with their aggressive trapping defense led to several fast break scores for the Panthers, giving them a 33-28 lead at the half.
Continued Euclid pressure and strong inside play from junior forward Reggie Priah allowed the Panthers to extend their lead in the third quarter. Priah’s inside presence was paired with some solid outside shooting from junior forward Latrayl Alexander-Davis, who connected on two of his three 3-pointers in the period to push the Panther lead to 48-39 at the end of the quarter.
Strongsville rallied in the fourth quarter as they increased their defensive pressure. Senior forward Omari Peek scored seven points in the quarter, and the Mustangs cut the lead to 5 with three minutes to go in the game.
That was as close as they came, as Euclid was able to retake control of the game thanks to eight made free throws and eight fourth quarter points from Priah. Despite faltering slightly, the Panthers were able to regain their composure and hold off the Mustang attack.
Priah and Alexander-Davis led the way for the Panthers, each scoring 15. They were joined in double figures by senior guard Emari Baddour, who had 12. Omari Peek led all scorers with 22, and Bernie McGivern pitched in 12 for the Mustangs. Strongsville travels to Medina Jan. 9 to take on the Bees, and Euclid plays at home Jan. 6 against Glenville.