HENRIETA TWP. - After giving up 26 first-quarter points, Keystone turned up its defensive pressure to pull away from its old Inland and Lorain County Conference rival Firelands, 73-63, Friday night in the season opener for both schools.
"I thought we ran the floor pretty well after that first quarter," said Wildcat coach Greg Morgan. "We stopped fouling, we moved our feet and got some steals."
It spoiled the debut of Firelands` first-year coach John Tice. It wasn`t exactly the way the Pennsylvania native drew it up.
"Nope, you always want to draw those up so they come out on the good end," Tice said. "We`re still a work in progress and we`re still trying to get better every day."
The Falcons appeared on the verge of blowing Keystone out of its venerable gym. With 6-foot-4 junior Kreig Holzalski scoring from nearly anywhere he chose, Firelands built a 26-17 advantage. Holzalski scored 13 of his game-high 23 points in the quarter. He sank five of his seven field goal attempts, including a 3-pointer, to go along with two of three from the foul line.
However, Keystone shut out Holzalski in the second quarter and quickly climbed back in the game with a six-point spurt at the outset. Firelands managed to pull ahead again, 30-23, before Keystone went on an eight- point run to take its first lead, 31-30. Even then, the Falcons still had a comfortable lead, 51-44, midway through the third quarter before Keystone`s mixed in its half-court and full-court traps effectively. The Wildcats outscored Firelands 10-2 to close out the third quarter and never trailed again.
Keystone had pretty balanced scoring with four players in double-figures led by Kyle Smith`s 16 point effort. Matt Herb had 14 points while Corey Smith and Kyle Shaw each had 11. Sophomore Jimmy Reid added eight points along with a number of steals and assists.
For Tice, the reasons for the loss were clear.
"We had a bad spell where (Keystone) got too many offensive rebounds," Tice said. "We didn`t make our foul shots. We turned the ball over way too many times. We`re not going to win very many games giving up 73 points."
Tice was right. Firelands held the upper hand on the boards in the first quarter, 12-7, but gave up eight rebounds in the third quarter and 13 more in the third. The rebound battle ended up tied at 34, but was very misleading with Keystone getting a number of second and third opportunities. Both teams hit 25 field goals but Keystone took 17 more shots and got to the foul line more often. Firelands missed half its 22 free throw attempts while the `Cats were 19-of-28.
On top of that, the Falcons turned the ball over 28 times â€“ nine in the fourth quarter, when Keystone outscored the hosts 19-10.
"We talked about easy baskets," Morgan said. "Run the floor, get some steals, and we want to get offensive rebounds. We want to press more but personnel-wise, sometimes it`s better to do our half-court traps.
"I`m pretty pleased with the way we`re playing."
Both teams have tough assignments coming up next week. Brunswick invades LaGrange on Tuesday while Firelands hosts Elyria Catholic on Friday.
KEYSTONE (73): Jimmy Reid 3-2-8, Kyle Shaw 4-3-11, Kyle Smith 4-5-16, Matt Herb 5-4-14, Mike Herb 2-0-4, Corey Dill 1-0-2, Matt Osborne 1-3-5, Corey Smith 4-2-11, Nick Wilmoth 0-0-0, Jeff Knepper 1-0-2. Totals 25-19-73.
FIRELANDS (63): Brian Klingshirn 1-0-2, Nick Simonovich 3-2-9, Dominic Gentile 2-2-6, Matt Deichler 4-0-8, Kreig Holzalski 9-4-23, Ryan Waldman 5-2-12, Justin Morell 0-0-0, Jacob Earl 0-0-0, Zack Ruth 0-0-0. Totals 25-11-63.
Keystone Â 17Â 19Â 18Â 19Â - Â 73
FirelandsÂ 26Â 11Â 16Â 10Â - Â 63
Three-point goals: Keystone 4-11 (K. Smith 3, C. Smith). Firelands 2-9 (Holzalski, Simonovich). Field Goals: Keystone 25-61 (41 percent). Firelands 25-46 (54 percent). Free Throws: Keystone19-28 (68 percent). Firelands 11-22 (50 percent). Rebounds: Keystone 34 (Osborne 11), Firelands 34 (Deichler 8). Turnovers: Keystone 15, Firelands 28. Fouls: Keystone 20, Firelands 18. Fouled Out: Deichler.
Junior Varsity: Keystone 46-44.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or email@example.com.