by Logan Chuppa
NORTH ROYALTON, OHIO– The North Royalton Bears boys’ basketball team defended their home court in the first game of their annual holiday tournament against the Bay Rockets as they posted 71 points in the game en route to a convincing 12-point victory.
The Bears were impressive on the offensive end of the floor, particularly from deep, as they connected on 12 3-pointers, hitting 9 in the first half. Bears’ coach Nick Lapsevich commented on his team’s solid play saying, “Tonight was a huge step in the right direction for us.”
Sophomore post Jordan Garland had the hot hand early on for the Bears as he connected on his first three 3-pointers for 9 of his 10 first quarter points. As a team, the Bears hit five 3’s to propel them to an early four-point lead in this up-tempo game. Akram Abuhamdeh and Evan Scott hit the other two 3’s for the Bears.
The fast pace of the game continued into the second quarter as both teams came out with full court pressure. Bay was able to speed the Bears up with their 1-2-2 press, but the Bears showed poise as they soon adjusted to the pressure. The Rockets did, however, cut the lead to just two going into the half thanks to strong play from senior post RJ Sunahara and junior guard Erik Painter, who combined for 14 second-quarter points.
Offensive rebounding and unselfish play allowed Bay to take a two-point lead in the third quarter, as senior guard Daniel Brajdic connected on back-to-back corner triples. However, five straight points from senior post Adam Barrett allowed North Royalton to reclaim a lead that they would not surrender for the remainder of the game.
In addition to scoring 10 points in the quarter, Bears guard Christian Limer also nabbed four steals, negating the Bay momentum created by a massive two-handed dunk from Sunahara. The Bears’ defense was integral in generating offensive success, as they finished the quarter on a 20-8 run, giving them a 12-point lead heading into the final period.
In the fourth quarter, the Bears were able to knock down free throws and control the clock on their way to a 71-59 home victory. Lapsevich was pleased with his team’s execution of their game plan and their offensive performance.
The Bears were led in scoring by Chrisitan Limer, who ended the night with a game-high 22 points, shooting 6-for-6 from 3-point range. Jordan Garland pitched in 20 points for the Bears, and Adam Barrett had eight. Erik Painter paced the Rockets with 17 points and was joined in double figures by Sunahara, who had 16.
Both teams play again tomorrow, Dec. 30, at North Royalton High School. Bay will tip off at 6:00 p.m. against Oregon Clay, and North Royalton hosts Holy Name at 7:30 p.m.