By Chad Grant
WOOSTER — The Black River boys basketball team hung tough for awhile Tuesday, but the depth of Norwayne and the play of Kaleb Harris proved to be too much.
The Bobcats steadily pulled away for a 70-43 win in the Wooster Divisional III Sectional semifinals. They advance to play Keystone on Friday.
The Pirates (1-20) played even with Norwayne (17-4) and led 13-10 following a three-point play by John Guilford (17 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks) early in the second quarter.
An ensuing 8-0 run pulled the Bobcats back in front, but Guilford brought the Pirates back again to 20-19.
“We came out really well and controlled the tempo, which was something we knew we needed to do.” Black River coach Don Brunker said. “Force them to take some tough shots against pretty good solid defense, we rebounded the ball pretty well and made good decisions on offense. We took good shots and made good shots.”
From that point, Norwayne went to work behind Harris (24 points, 4 assists) and slowly increased the lead to win going away.
Like many of his teammates, Harris struggled early with four turnovers in the first quarter, but a message from coach Bryan West kicked in and the sophomore took over.
“Coach just told me to play within myself,” Harris said. “Be aggressive like I usually am and stop trying to be so passive.”
Unfortunately for the Pirates, the message got through as Harris scored 23 points over the final three quarters.
With Harris providing most of the offensive punch, several players went to work dominating the glass. The Bobcats held a 38-23 rebounding advantage, including 16-2 on the offensive end.
“Our big men take a lot of pride in that,” Harris said of his team’s rebounding performance. “Just going in there and trying to beat people up inside, going after every ball and trying to be really aggressive.”
Adam Wallace (9 points, 9 rebounds), Jon Maibach (8, 9) and Nate Davis (6, 6) were particularly tough, pulling down 10 combined offensive rebounds and giving the Bobcats numerous second chances.
“That’s on thing this year being 17-4 is that we have that (balance),” West said. “We have seven seniors and a couple underclassmen coming off the bench. There hasn’t been one guy to lead us every night, night in and night out it has been a different leader every night.”
Besides Guilford, the Pirates got solid games from guards Gus Kazek (10 points) and Andrew Vaughn (9 points, 4 assists).
Contact Chad Grant at firstname.lastname@example.org.