ROCKY RIVER — The Lutheran West track is covered with snow these days, so the Longhorns brought the meet into their gym Wednesday night.
Lutheran West, which boasts four players in its starting lineup that can handle the ball in the open floor, ran early and at every opportunity against Brooklyn in a Patriot Athletic Conference Stripes Division matchup.
The Longhorns cleared the defensive glass effectively, threw crisp outlet passes and repeatedly beat the Hurricanes down the floor, running away to a 75-33 victory.
“We practice creating tempo a lot,” said Lutheran West’s Andrew O’Hara, who when he wasn’t rebounding took the outlet pass and registered five assists in transition. “We want to get the other team running and out of their comfort zone. Our defense creates a lot of turnovers and we’re able to rebound and go.”
Lutheran West improved to 13-3 overall and 9-2 in PAC play, and kept pace with Columbia, which sits at 9-2 in the league. The teams face off Feb. 21, the final Friday of the season. Columbia used a massive second-quarter run in their first matchup to run away from the Longhorns.
“We know Brooklyn likes to play zone, so we talked about the best way of beating a zone is to beat it down the floor,” Longhorns coach Alan Januzzi said. “With our depth, rotating guys in and out, we were able to wear them down. We want to get out, want to push tempo and our kids did a good job of that.”
Meanwhile, the young Hurricanes (5-12, 2-9) — they dress only two seniors — were coming off an emotional overtime win over Open Door on Monday, and coach Jon Holko said his team looked plain tired.
They battled early, but a quick 10-0 run midway through the first quarter really was all the Longhorns needed. The run included five straight baskets in transition, one each from O’Hara, Chris Scott and Max Quinn, and two from Greg Kunze.
After Brooklyn stemmed the tide with four straight, the Longhorns continued the onslaught, scoring 14 of the next 17 to lead 32-11. Kunze hit another jumper and followed with a 3-pointer during the spurt.
The Longhorns also forced nine first-half turnovers, and 22 for the game, which contributed to their ability to play at a break-neck pace.
“We came off a very exciting win, and they’re a veteran team that flies around,” Holko said. “We just were not able to match their energy.”
Lutheran West continues to rely on its speed and skilled ballhandlers, as O’Hara, Kunze, Scott and Peter Koza are able to get the ball and go — and pass efficiently, as they did Wednesday. Typically a strong 3-point-shooting team, the Longhorns relied little on the long ball, shooting 24-of-37 (65 percent) from inside the arc.
“That’s what makes our team great, we have a lot of versatility,” O’Hara said.
Kunze backed O’Hara with 14, as five Longhorns scored eight or more and 10 players scored in total.
Contact Joel Hammond at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Lutheran West 75, Brooklyn 33
BROOKLYN (33): Nate Kaminskie 2-0-5, Deric Martin 0-1-1, Tim Czirr 2-0-4, Donnie McMahan 2-0-4, Dan Czirr 2-1-7, Austin Guder 3-0-7, Jake Daerr 0-2-2, Collin Lane 1-1-3. Totals 12-5-33.
LUTHERAN WEST (75): Nick Knudsen 1-2-4, Greg Kunze 5-3-14, Peter Koza 3-2-9, Chris Scott 2-0-4, Andrew O’Hara 6-3-15, Jack Kelsheimer 1-2-5, Max Quinn 3-2-8, Clay Carper 1-0-2, Nate Roman 2-2-6, Joe Peters 3-2-8. Totals 27-18-75.
Brooklyn 9 8 11 5 — 33
Lutheran West 22 20 16 17 — 75
Three-point goals: Brooklyn 4-18 (Kaminskie, Dan Czirr 2, Guder), Lutheran West 3-14 (Kunze, Koza, Kelsheimer). Field goals: Brooklyn 12-49 (24 percent), Lutheran West 27-51 (53 percent). Free throws: Brooklyn 5-8 (63 percent), Lutheran West 18-19 (95 percent). Rebounds: Brooklyn 31 (Martin/Lane 5), Lutheran West 30 (O’Hara/Kunze 5). Total fouls: Brooklyn 15, Lutheran West 12. Turnovers: Brooklyn 22, Lutheran West 7. Fouled out: None.
Junior varsity: Lutheran West, 51-41.