Stingy defense leads South to two more NBC wins

By Brian king The Press-News Published:

It was back to normal on Tuesday evening when the Canton South boys basketball squad traveled to Minerva to take on the struggling Lions in a big NBC match-up.

Minerva was still looking for their first win of the season while Canton South was ranked eighth in the state according to the latest OHSAA AP poll.

South dominated.

The Cats led from start to finish and looked like they did in the first half of the season by blowing out the Lions on their home floor by the final score of 57-38.

Canton South and Minerva (0-13, 0-8) both ended the first quarter with nine points before the Cats decided to put the pedal down.

In the final 24 minutes, South outscored the Lions 48-29, thanks in large part to a 21-11 outburst in the final quarter to really blow the game wide open.

Armand Fontes led the Wildcats in scoring with 20 points as Kyle Deckard added 11 and Trey Taylor ended the night with 10.

Josh Lyon added eight for the visitors while Austin Joliff had four.

Both teams accumulated 22 rebounds in the contest as Joliff led the team with nine boards.

The Cats returned to the hardwood on Friday night when they returned to the friendly confines of Red Ash Gymnasium to host the Louisville Leopards, who the Cats defeated back on Dec. 21.

The night also marked Canton South's winter homecoming festivities as the student body crowned their king and queen.

When the basketball tipped off, it was a tale of two halves. South's tenacious defense and high octane offensive prevailed and the Wildcats sent the fans home with a 59-49 defeat of the Leopards.

Canton South built an early 12-5 lead when senior forward Jason Merriweather put in a deuce with 3:27 to go in the first stanza.

A shooting drought for the Leopards that stretched a span of over six minutes between quarters one and two let the Cats open up a double-digit advantage at 19-5. The Leopards ended the drought with 6:39 left in the second quarter thanks to two free throws from sophomore Jon Crank.

The Wildcats continued their pressure defense forcing multiple Leopard turnovers which led to easy buckets for South. A conventional three- point play by Joliff with 5:17 left in the first half extended South's lead to 25-9.

Following a Leopard basket by Mike Weiss, the Cats would then reel off a 12-5 run to end the half and head to the locker room with a commanding 37-16 advantage.

"Everything we tried to do in the first half, whether it was trap, tempo control, etc. worked out for us," said Spotleson on his team's excellent first half of basketball. "We got the looks we wanted offensively as well."

Following the brief intermission as both teams collected their breaths from the blistering first half pace, Louisville began the second half with a three pointer from sophomore guard Pavin Parks.

South added a bucket from Taylor and two free throws from Fontes to get the lead back up to 19 before another Parks three cut the South lead to 16 at 41-25.

An 8-3 spurt by the Wildcats extended the lead to 21 points when Dejon Newell poured in five consecutive points to make the score 49-28 with just under two minutes left in quarter three. A Crank three cut the South lead to 49-31 after three quarters of play.

Then came the fourth quarter. In the last few weeks of the season, South has struggled finishing games and Friday night was no different.

The Leopards began creeping back into the game, cutting the South lead to 16 with 5:25 left in the contest thanks to two free throws from Bryce Mathie.

A minute and a half later, Parks drilled another three to cut the deficit to 13 (54-41) with just under four minutes to play as fans were starting to worry if the Cats were going get to zeros with the lead.

South got the lead back up to 16 (57-41) with 2:38 to go as Fontes hit both free throws after being fouled and put to the line courtesy of the double-bonus.

The Leopards ended the game on an 8-2 run once it was too late and when the buzzer sounded, South won it's third game in a row.

"We have a solid, experienced group of kids that haven't seen this kind of success before," said Spotleson of his team. "They are foreign to this and we are trying to get a career's worth of learning into one season," he added.

Deckard led the Wildcats with 13 points while teammates Taylor and Newell each contributed with 11. Fontes chipped in with 10 and Joliff, knocked down three triples for nine points.

Josh Lyon added three points and Merriweather added two for the Cats.

The boys end the week with an overall record of 14-2 and 8-2 in the NBC. Thanks to Marlington knocking off NBC-leader Salem, the Cats now find themselves in a three-way tie for first place in the NBC.

"Any league game from here on out is huge," said Spotleson as him and his Wildcats draw closer to the end of the season.

The Cats laced the shoes back up on Jan. 29 when they hosted St. Thomas Aquinas in a non-conference contest. South will be on the road this Friday night (Feb. 1) when they travel to West Branch High School to take on the Warriors in a NBC contest. Tip-off is slated for 6 p.m.

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.