EATON TWP. — Cloverleaf battled all night to try to overcome an early deficit, but just couldn’t make up the difference in a 52-39 loss.
North Royalton (4-2) jumped to a 11-4 first quarter advantage and managed to hold off the scrappy Colts (3-6) to win the 10th annual Bob DiFranco Memorial Tournament at Midview Thursday night. It was the Bears’ second Memorial championship in the past three years. Cloverleaf was invited for the first time, splitting the two games.
“The perimeter looks that were dropping against Midview (on Tuesday) weren’t,” Cloverleaf coach Dan Brown said. “I kept telling them in the huddle we’re getting the shots we want. We just gotta keep doing it.”
The difference clearly was North Royalton 6-foot-7 senior post Ned Tomic, who finished with 22 points and a dozen rebounds. If Tomic wasn’t taking lobs and feeds inside, he found himself at the foul line where he made six of seven free throws. North Royalton outscored Cloverleaf 19-8 from the foul line.
Cloverleaf kept the game interesting all night, closing to within 13-12 in the second quarter but it never could get the lead. It seemed every time North Royalton needed a basket, it turned to Tomic.
“We were kind of inconsistent all night,” said North Royalton coach Tim Matus. “Give Cloverleaf credit. They were scrapping and out-worked us for a quarter and a half. Our guys kind of kicked it in gear. The effort in the second half was good, I thought.”
Tomic seemed to be in the right place at the right time. He scored on a lob, two free throws and a rebound to extend the Bears lead to 30-18 early in the second half. He scored four straight points early in the final quarter to put North Royalton in front by 39-26.
No pun intended, (Tomic’s) a bear,” said Brown. “I’m glad we don’t play a lot of guys like him.”
Robby Buckwald led the Colts with 14 points. Zach Miglich added seven while Brandon Whitslar, J.D. Schleich and Kori Davis all chipped in a half dozen but the closest Cloverleaf could slice the margin was 43-36 with 2:10 to play off a 3-pointer by Whitslar.
However, North Royalton answered with six straight free throws to pull away again with just over a minute remaining.
“Our kids played hard,” said Brown. “We forced them to play with their guards a little more. They would go on some runs and we were already in the hole. It was too much.”
Cloverleaf, with no starter over 6-2, did fairly well on the boards. Schleich had six rebounds with Buckwald and Davis grabbing five each. The Colts made just three of their 20 3-point attempts. North Royalton made just one of eight.
“We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well,” said Matus. “I think we made one three. We usually hit five, six, seven in a game. Hopefully, we can hang our hat on our defense. We held (Cloverleaf) to 39.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at (440) 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.