VERMILION — If Firelands didn’t know who Anthony Rini was before Friday’s season opener against Vermilion, the Falcons sure won’t forget him next time around.
On Vermilion’s Hall of Fame induction night, the Vermilion junior had a Hall of Fame performance in his varsity debut, scoring a game-high 20 points to lead the Sailors to a 61-54 win.
Rini scored 12 straight points for the Sailors in the fourth quarter to break open a close game against their former West Shore Conference rival.
“Everyone was just doing their jobs,” said Rini, who also had four boards. “Cameron (Kuhn) and Jordan (Gillespie) did a great job of penetrating and that opened me up for some shots. My job is to nail them when I get them and that’s what I tried to do.”
Vermilion (1-0) struggled for much of the game against Firelands, which left the WSC for the Patriot Athletic Conference this year. The Sailors trailed twice by as many as five points as the Falcons defense hounded the Sailors in the early going.
However, Vermilion battled its way back into the game and led 43-40 after Gillespie split a pair of free throws following a technical on Firelands’ Kyle Smith.
And that’s when Rini grabbed control.
A Rini 3-pointer on the ensuing possession gave Vermilion a 46-40 lead with 4:37 remaining in the game. Baskets by Nick Deichler and Zack Hofecker cut the lead to 46-44, but Rini hit another bucket to push the lead to 48-44. A pair of free throws by Joey Ritz pulled the Falcons to within 48-46 with 2:52 to go.
Rini answered by missing his initial shot on the next possession, but grabbed his own rebound and was fouled as he put it back in. He converted the free throw for the three-point play to give Vermilion a 51-46 lead. Rini went on to hit his second 3-pointer of the quarter and split a pair of free throws to help the Sailors take a commanding 55-48 lead with 2:03 left.
“Anthony had quite a game out there,” Vermilion coach Kurt Habermehl said. “With only three returning players having any varsity experience, we needed someone to step up and assert themselves. Anthony did that by following his shots, draining baskets and playing with enthusiasm.
“He picked us up when we needed it.”
Firelands coach Steve Lias lamented missed opportunities for the Falcons, but also praised Rini’s performance.
“We missed a lot of easy buckets and we had opportunities to open the game up,” said Lias, whose team connected on 21 of 55 shots from the field. “But we just couldn’t do the things we needed to do in order to win the game. We let
Vermilion hang around and Rini had a good game down the stretch that helped them and hurt us.
“I thought we played hard but we just couldn’t finish anything on the offensive end.”
Kuhn finished with 17 points and Gillespie tossed in 11 for the Sailors. Nick Bauer and Ritz led Firelands with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Contact Hans Schneider at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Vermilion 61, Firelands 54
FIRELANDS (54): Nick Bauer 3-4-11, Joey Ritz 3-2-10, Kyle Smith 4-0-8, Jake Myers 3-2-8, Nick Deichler 4-0-8, Cory Peters 1-1-3, Joe Hyster 1-0-2, Zack Hofecker 1-0-2, Kevin Rollins 1-0-2. Totals 21-9-54.
VERMILION (61): Anthony Rini 5-8-20, Cameron Kuhn 4-8-17, Jordan Gillespie 3-5-11, Ryan Miller 2-3-7, Austin Kazmer 1-1-3, Chris Yates 1-0-2, Seth Konrad 0-1-1. Totals 16-26-61.
Firelands 11 9 16 18 — 54
Vermilion 10 8 19 24 — 61
Three-point goals: Firelands 3-of-11 (Ritz 2, Bauer), Vermilion 3-of-7 (Rini 2, Kuhn). Field goals: Firelands 21-of-55 (38 percent), Vermilion 16-of-38 (42 percent). Free throws: Firelands 9-of-19 (47 percent), Vermilion 26-of-38 (68 percent). Rebounds: Firelands 32 (Myers 7), Vermilion 31 (Miller 9). Turnovers: Firelands 16, Vermilion 19. Total fouls: Firelands 25, Vermilion 18. Technical foul: Smith. Fouled out: Ritz, Hofecker.
Junior varsity: Vermilion, 49-31.