HENRIETTA TWP. - Given the choice, Midview would have picked a friendlier venue to turn around its road fortunes.
The Middies had already opened their season with a pair of losses on the road. Friday night the schedule sent them to Firelands.
The Firelands gym, with tight seating on the sides - one featuring a stage - and room for fewer than 1,000 spectators, is the last facility of its kind in Lorain County.
It`s not a place to become road warriors.
But Midview did it. Getting a stellar effort from the bench, 16 points from starter Kevin Allen and deadly free throw shooting, the Middies held off the Falcons for a 61-57 West Shore Conference victory.
One thing that helped was practice time. Midview had nine days to get ready after losing at Cloverleaf. The Middies put it to good use.
"To win here, it`s big," said Middies coach Troy DiFranco. "We`ve worked hard the past nine days when we were off, correcting our mistakes. We took better care of the basketball tonight. I was happy with the entire effort.
"Everyone contributed. I was real proud of the whole team."
Justin Casselle and Jordan English led the bench brigade, combining for 20 points, but Matt Borsz, Tom Jaykel and Jacob Klamut also played well in relief. Meanwhile, Allen led the scoring, hitting 5 of 8 from the floor. Brad Gross chipped in with 10.
Gross and Allen closed out the game with four free throws in the last 24 seconds. The Middies sank 14 of 17 from the stripe, 7 of 9 in the fourth quarter.
They needed them because Firelands rallied from 10 down in the last 2:49. The Falcons scored on six straight possessions and twice closed to within two, the latter at 59-57 with 16 seconds on the clock, but Allen calmly hit a pair from the stripe and the Falcons came no closer.
"Those free throws are very important for a young group," DiFranco said. "It builds confidence."
Firelands coach John Tice was at a loss to explain his team`s first half.
"We were just sluggish in the first half," he said. "Midview came out ready to play and we didn`t. We didn`t seem to get it going until the second half. We`ve had good intensity in both our first two games, but for whatever reason, tonight we were flat. We weren`t ready and they took it to us."
Tice pointed to the rebounding numbers. In the first half, the Middies ruled the boards 22-11, getting 12 offensive rebounds. On one possession Midview got six shots, but failed to convert.
In the second half, the Falcons owned the glass, 18-11, and Midview got just one offensive rebound.
Kreig Hozalski, a 6-4 junior, finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds with a strong second half. He had six points and three rebounds in the first half, but scored 12 of his team`s 22 in the fourth.
Midview broke a 9-all tie with a 3-point basket by Casselle in the waning seconds of the first quarter and stayed in front the rest of the way. Three-point shots were big for the Middies, who sank 5 of 10 from beyond the arc to Firelands`
2 for 10.
"We mixed up our defenses and had them a little off balance," DiFranco said. "We were active in the zone."
The exigencies of the road need to stay fresh in Midview`s mind. The Middies will be at Vermilion a week from tonight before starting on a lengthy homestand.
Contact Roger Negin at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Midview 61, Firelands 57
MIDVIEW (61): Brad Gross 3-4-10, Derek Haney 3-1-7, Nick Clark 1-2-4, Mike Mercado 1-2-4, Kevin Allen 5-4-16, Jordan English 3-1-9, Jacob Klamut 0-0-0, Matt Borsz 0-0-0, Justin Casselle 5-1-11, Tim Jaykel 0-0-0. Totals 21-14-61.
FIRELANDS (57): Matt Deichler 2-1-5, Kreig Hozalski 9-8-24, Ryan Waldmann 1-0-2, Nick Simonovich 5-0-12, Dominic Gentile 0-0-0, Cory Stevens 2-3-7, Jacob Earl 3-1-7. Totals 22-11-57.
MidviewÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 14Â Â Â 16Â Â Â 15Â Â Â 16Â Â Â - Â Â Â 61
FirelandsÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 11Â Â Â 11Â Â Â 13Â Â Â 22Â Â Â - Â Â Â 57
Three-point goals: Midview (5-10) Allen 2, English 2, Casselle, Firelands (2-10) Simonovich 2; Rebounding: Midview 33 (Clark, MercadoÂ 6), Firelands 29 (Hozalski 11); Turnovers: Midview 16, Firelands 16; Fouls: Midview 21, Firelands 17; Fouled Out: None; Technical Foul: Waldmann; Field Goal Shooting: Midview 21 of 50 (42 percent), Firelands 22 of 46 (48 percent); Free Throw Shooing: Midview 14 of 17 (82 percent), Firelands 11 of 19 (58 percent).
JV: Firelands, 47-41