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BOYS BASKETBALL

By JONAH ROSENBLUM / Staff Writer/ The Record-Courier

https://www.record-courier.com/sports 

Posted Nov 30, 2018 at 10:26 PMUpdated Nov 30, 2018 at 10:54 PM 

ROOTSTOWN — Ben Shank worried he had blown the game.

The Rovers senior guard had missed a fast-break layup and the Falcons capitalized with a pair of free throws to draw within two with 1:36 remaining.

Shank gave himself another opportunity, ripping a steal with a minute remaining and taking it all the way for a layup, as host Rootstown prevailed over Field, 45-41.

“Right before that play, we had gotten out on a fast break and I had a wide-open layup and I missed it and I just knew I had to pull through for my team,” Shank said. “I almost blew the game right there.”

The Falcons trailed just 39-37 with 1:10 remaining when Shank realized his chance at redemption.

“I knew they needed a big play,” Shank said. “I saw him look over at his coach, and I went for the ball and I ended up getting it.”

After a Field missed jumper, Rootstown got further insurance as senior guard Adam Whitacre fired a pass to senior forward Jack Steger for a layup and a 43-37 lead with 38.7 ticks to go.

Even then, the Falcons refused to give up, with Jacob Lupardus hitting a baseline jumper from just outside the paint and Carter Baumberger hitting two from the line to draw within 43-41 with 8.3 seconds remaining.

Then, Shank, after cutting sharply toward the baseline to catch the inbound pass and calmly absorbing the ensuing foul, stepped to the line and sent his first shot a little short. The ball ricocheted off the front rim twice before falling in.

“I was thinking, ‘Please, please, just go in,’” Shank said. “I knew if the first one went in, I was going to make the second one. The first one is the hardest one to make. When it went in, I knew I had the second one.”

His second shot crashed through twine for the final 45-41 margin.

“That’s just Ben,” Rovers coach Cody Calhoun said. “That’s just who he is. He lives for those moments. That kid is one of the hardest-working kids I’ve ever seen and he deserves to have that moment as good of a kid as he is.”

Shank scored seven of his 11 points in the fourth quarter.

“That (steal) was the play of the game,” Field coach Dominique Sanders said. “I would say watching film on these guys, he impressed me just because a guy like Shank you love. He plays hard every possession. He gets after you every play defensively and you know he’s going to be there to lead your team at the end of the game.”

The Rovers (1-0) led most of the way Friday evening, seizing an early edge with slick ball movement.

Down 5-4, they found Steger (16 points, 8-14 FG, 10 rebounds) by the free-throw line for a go-ahead jumper with three minutes remaining in the first quarter.

“He’s got a touch, man,” Shank said. “I don’t know what it is. He has got a knack for scoring the ball.”

A little over a minute later, sophomore guard Adam Beery dished to Whitacre, who returned the favor, with Beery draining the 3-pointer for a 9-5 lead. Whitacre whipped another pass to Steger for a layup to end the first up 12-7.

The Falcons (0-1), on a night in which they shot 26.4 percent from the field, refused to give in.

“That’s the thing I told the guys,” Sanders said. “With our experience right now, we’re going to struggle to score at times, especially against a good program. This is a heck of a team, so I just told them, there are two things we can rely on. It’s energy and defense.

“If we play with energy, which we did I feel like for most of the game, and play tough and trust each other, we’ll have a chance to win. That’s all you can ask for going on the road, first game, young guys, hostile environment. All you can ask for is to be in the game at the end and give your team a chance to win and we did that.”

Down 16-9, Falcons sophomore guard Jacob Gartner (11 points) hit a jumper, then down 18-12, slashed through the heart of the defense for a lefty layup.

Down 21-17 at the half, the Falcons got a jolt. Having hit 1-of-7 from deep in the first half, they made 3-of-5 in the third quarter. Junior Mason Campanelli’s trey drew Field within 21-20 and a Jaheim James 3-pointer knotted the game at 23.

Gartner, off a nice shot fake, freed himself of his defender, taking two steps, then cashing in on a deep jumper for a 25-23 Falcons lead.

Whitacre put the Rovers back in front with a fast-break trey, then came up with a delightful drive to the basket to put the Rovers in front 33-28 with eight minutes to go.

“He’s a shifty point guard,” Shank said. “He’s been like that all his life. He loves to dribble the basketball. He’s got a good handle and he beat that guy, and it was probably an and-one down there and they didn’t call it, but that pumped us up right there. We really needed that.”

From there, even as Field drew within one possession in the fourth, Rootstown’s experience won out.

The Rovers also got five fourth-quarter boards from senior Laszlo May in his return to high school basketball, having not played since his freshman year. He finished with 12 boards.

“The biggest thing is they just played really hard,” Calhoun said. “That’s what we always tell them. It’s not always going to be pretty, but just always compete, play hard for four quarters, and we had some moments where we definitely didn’t look very good, but our kids didn’t hang their heads. They just kept fighting and competing the whole way through.”



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Field Local Schools | 2900 Door #5, State Route 43 | Mogadore, OH 44260 | Phone: 330.673.2659 | Fax: 330.673.0270
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Field Local Schools | 2900 St Rt 43, Door #5 | Mogadore, OH 44260 | Phone: 330.673.2659 | Fax: 330.673.0270