BRECKSVILLE — Midview coach Troy DiFranco said after Wednesday night’s Division I district semifinal against North Royalton that the Middies have talked often this season of having an “inner arrogance.”
For one quarter against the Bears, the Middies took the “inner” part of that mantra a bit too far, as North Royalton easily solved anything Midview threw at it on its way to a 23-15 lead.
But the Middies used their 1-2-2 half-court trap, with 6-foot-5 Patrick Linn the point man, to disrupt the Bears’ hot start, and D.J. Johnson came alive in the second quarter to help Midview regain its footing. Once steadied, the Middies played a solid second half to beat the Bears, 68-60, to reach what is believed to be the school’s first district final in boys basketball.
“They stuck it to us that first quarter,” DiFranco said. “They were making shots; if we got out on shots, they went by us. But to our kids’ credit, we never faltered.
“We have guys who can move in our trap, and it makes the court a little bit smaller. That got (North Royalton) out of sync a little bit.”
The Middies (19-3) are one win from tying a school record for victories in a season, but they’ll need another stellar effort to get there: Midview will take on top-seeded Lakewood St. Edward in Saturday night’s district final at 7. The Eagles beat Midpark, 56-34, in Wednesday’s opener.
But for a while, it looked as though North Royalton (13-10) might shoot Midview out of the tournament.
The Middies started in an extended 2-3 zone, an attempt to keep the quick Bears out of the paint. When North Royalton broke that, Midview switched to man-to-man — only to see North Royalton easily drive past the bigger Middies. The Bears used a 9-2 run to earn their largest lead of the game, 19-9.
So the Middies switched to that 1-2-2 trap to open the second quarter, and things changed. After North Royalton’s Travis Tarnowski hit a 3-pointer to push the lead to 26-17, Midview rattled off 14 of the game’s next 16 points to lead 31-28. That stretch featured eight straight for Johnson, who later added two free throws for 10 in the quarter and a 36-31 halftime lead.
“We didn’t come with enough intensity. They wanted it more that first quarter,” said Johnson, who was on DiFranco’s bad side during the first quarter. “Once he got in my face, it got me moving for sure.”
The Bears scored the first six of the third, but Midview countered with the next nine, including a banked-in three and dunk from Johnson, for an eight-point edge. The Middies led by six after three, increased it to as many as nine in the fourth quarter and eased to victory thanks to an 11-of-13 mark from the foul line in the fourth quarter.
The Middies were efficient all around in the second half, shooting 10-of-16 from the field — including four buckets from Riley Moore, who said the employment of the trap helped on offense, too.
“We’ve used that trap quite a bit when our other zone isn’t working,” said Moore, who scored 15 and had 15 rebounds. “It forces a lot of turnovers, as long as we rotate. If we do that, it’s hard to beat.
“And that defense slowed them down, too. We played at our pace and got it inside. We had a big size edge and we used it to our advantage.”
The Bears were 10-of-19 from the field in the first quarter, enabling their hot start, but only 14-of-35 after. For the Middies, Linn added 16 to back Johnson and Moore, while Eddie Brezina and Justin Morris — all five are seniors — added eight apiece.
Midview 68, North Royalton 60
MIDVIEW (68): Michael Snoddy 1-0-2, Eddie Brezina 3-2-8, DJ Johnson 6-4-17, Justin Morris 3-2-8, Patrick Linn 5-6-16, Arlington McClinton 1-0-2, Riley Moore 6-3-15. Totals 25-17-68.
NORTH ROYALTON (60): Nick Krempasky 4-0-8, Brandon Woods 4-0-10, Travis Tarnowski 6-2-16, Mike Hudec 0-1-1, Tyler Smolinski 2-0-4, Evan Wypasek 5-2-14, Logan Chuppa 2-0-5, Mckay Snyder 1-0-2. Totals 24-5-60.
Midview 15 21 13 19 — 68
North Royalton 23 8 12 17 — 60
Three-point goals: Midview 1 (Johnson), North Royalton 7 (Woods 2, Tarnowski 2, Wypasek 2, Chuppa). Field goals: Midview 25-44 (57 percent), North Royalton 24-54 (44 percent). Free throws: Midview 17-23 (74 percent), North Royalton 5-10 (50 percent). Rebounds: Midview 33 (Moore 15), North Royalton 20 (Krempasky 5). Turnovers: Midview 13, North Royalton 11. Total fouls: Midview 15, North Royalton 18. Fouled out: None.
Contact Joel Hammond at 329-7135 or email@example.com.