Firelands Falcons stay atop Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Firelands’ Joseph Hyster, left, takes a shot under pressure from Wellington’s Dylan Weidrick in the first quarter Friday at Firelands High School.

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Falcons forward Joseph Hyster looks for an open pass during the first quarter Friday.

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Dukes guard Dave Clark makes a pass during the second quarter Friday.

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Dukes forward Dylan Weidrick, left, drives to the basket during the second quarter Friday.

HENRIETTA TWP. — It is always a good thing when one can control its own destiny.

With a stifling defense and a disciplined offense, host Firelands maintained a tie atop of the Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division with a 54-40 win over rival Wellington on Friday. If the Falcons can defeat Black River and Brookside, they will clinch a share of the Stars Division championship.

“I’m happy for them,” Firelands coach Brett Bartlett said. “There is still a lot of basketball to be played and work to do. It started on defense and they executed well in taking some things away from them (Wellington).”

The defensive effort from Firelands (11-8, 9-5) started from the outset, holding Wellington (7-13, 7-7) to eight points. However the Falcons’ offense hadn’t found their groove yet and score only eight points in the quarter.

While Firelands’ man-to-man defense continued to clamp down, the offense started to show signs of life. They opened up a 21-15 lead at the half with Nicholas Bauer scoring the last five points of the quarter which included a 3 at the buzzer.

The shot sparked Firelands as it extended its lead throughout the third quarter. Four different players scored en route to a 31-19 lead. The defense continued its masterful job, forcing Wellington to turn the ball over five times in six possessions during the stretch.

“Our offense wasn’t there,” Wellington coach Dan Gundert said. “We wanted to push things and set a faster tempo. We didn’t do it, plus the turnovers (21 in total) really hurt us.”

A stifling defense is something which has been a point of emphasis since the beginning of the season for the Falcons. Having results like this has made believers out of them and other teams.

“We have been working hard on our defense,” Firelands senior Joe Hyster said. “When we lock down on defense, we have been winning. Defense and rebounding are the two things which we drill on every day in practice and it’s paying off.

“(Getting the win) feels good. We wanted to prove we could compete for the championship. At the beginning of the season, coach told us the only people who believe in us are the people in the locker room.”

Down by 14, Wellington went to a full-court press. Firelands was able to break it with ease. When it did, it went into its motion offense and ran off clock. Burning at times over a minute of clock, the end result was either a wide-open shot or a layup which helped the Falcons build a 39-22 lead.

After struggling for three quarters, the Dukes found some offense in the form of Dave Clark. The senior guard scored 17 points in the quarter, but Firelands hit nine free throws in the quarter to keep Wellington at arms’ length and seal the win.

Hyster and Bauer led the Falcons with 13 points apiece. Logan Sittinger added nine. The balanced and patient offense has been a constant for Firelands all season.

“We were passing well and making our cuts,” Hyster said. “We didn’t want to force anything and look for the open guy which we were able to do.”

Though the offense struggled, what bothered Gundert the most was Wellington’s inability to match Firelands’ intensity at both ends of the floor.

We didn’t hit shots and they did,” Gundert said. “By the time we did get some offense, it was too little, too late. The biggest thing is their (Firelands) effort was there and ours wasn’t. They played harder than we did, getting every loose ball and rebound.”

Wellington travels to Norwayne today for a non-conference game. Firelands will travel to North Ridgeville next Tuesday in a non-conference game.

Firelands 54, Wellington 40

Patriot Athletic Conference

Stars Division

WELLINGTON — Dylan Kidd 0-1 1, Jacob Grimmett 1-0 3, Dave Clark 6-6 21, Dylan Weidrick 4-2 10, Tim Young 2-0 4, Joey Holliday 0-1 1. TOTALS 13-10 30.

FIRELANDS — Nicholas Bauer 3-6 13, Logan Sittinger 4-1 9, Cole Sklarek 1-4 6, Casey Smith 3-0 6, Joe Hyster 5-3 13, Brett Helton 3-0 6, James Willbond 1-0 3. TOTALS 19-14 54.

3-POINT GOALS — W: Clark (3), Grimmett; F: Bauer, Willbond.

Score By Quarters

Wellington (7-13, 7-7) 8 7 4 21 — 40

Firelands (11-8, 9-5) 8 13 12 21 — 54

Team Statistics

Field Goals — Wellington 13 of 41 (32 percent), Firelands 19 of 36 (53 percent).

Free Throws — W 10 of 17 (59 percent), F 14 of 28 (50 percent).

Rebounds — W 31, F 31.

Turnovers — W 21, F 15.

J.V. — Firelands, 45-21.

@MJournalSports

Last Updated: 2/9/2013 12:04:37 PM EST

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