WADSWORTH — It took the Wadsworth boys basketball team three quarters to find attack mode Tuesday.
Kent Roosevelt was powerless to stop the Grizzlies once they found that button, as scoring balance, another steady performance from Kyle Prunty and clutch plays from Anthony Palecek and Tyson Heideman in the fourth quarter led Wadsworth to a 55-48 non-league victory.
“We really needed this,” Palecek said.
The Grizzlies (4-2) outscored the Rough Riders (4-3) 19-9 in the fourth quarter. Prunty (17 points, 8 rebounds), Palecek (8, 4, 4 assists), Heideman, Patrick Long, Joel Kipfer and Barry Fernholz each hit at least one bucket, and Wadsworth’s press that transitioned into a 2-3 zone held Kent Roosevelt to 4-for-13 shooting in the period.
More specifically, the Grizzlies limited 6-foot-7 Myles Wright (14 points, 7 rebounds) and generously listed 6-4 power forward Joseph Watts (12 points, 12 rebounds), who reached double-double status with 5:59 left in the third quarter, to four points on 2-for-8 shooting and two rebounds.
“We played with urgency for the first time all night,” coach Mike Schmeltzer Jr. said.
Wadsworth trailed 41-38 early in the fourth and was still searching for an answer to the Rough Riders’ 1-3-1 defense. The Grizzlies coaching staff was very frustrated with its guards, whose pass-it-around-the-perimeter preference negated potential wide-open looks.
Palecek and Heideman finally had enough and attacked the rim. The 6-2 Palecek had a driving score, steal and assist in a 10-second span, while 5-11 junior Heideman gave the Grizzlies the lead for good with a pull-up jumper and an assist on consecutive possessions to make it 50-45.
The game was all but over after Prunty found Austin White for a 3-pointer and Fernholz muscled up a putback.
“Guys stepped up,” Schmeltzer said. “Tyson Heideman played a phenomenal 3-minute stretch of basketball that really I thought turned the game in our favor, and Anthony did a great job tonight attacking the basket.”
Despite Wadsworth’s best efforts to dictate tempo by switching defenses, Watts, Wright and shooting guard Phillip Grant (12 points) put Kent Roosevelt in position for a mild upset. Six of Watts’ rebounds were offensive — he scored five points directly off them — and Wright hit a pair of 3-pointers early to help stake the Rough Riders to an 8-0 lead.
On the other end, the Grizzlies found Prunty in spurts but forgot he was on the floor in others. White also was a non-factor and didn’t score until 6:46 left in the first half, when Wadsworth shot 9-for-27 from the field and attempted just five free throws.
“We’ve got to become more consistent,” Schmeltzer said. “That’s been our one weakness this season so far. We’ve got to put it all together.”
Prunty went on a quick splurge to give the Grizzlies a 27-24 lead early in the third quarter. Grant answered to keep the Rough Riders around, and Kent Roosevelt led 39-36 heading into the fourth, but that was pretty much all she wrote for the Rough Riders, who will join the Suburban League as a member of the small-school American Division in 2015-16.
“I think we got refocused and halftime and saw we needed to come out firing,” Prunty said. “So, that’s what we did.
“The fourth quarter, I think we started coming together as a team. We’ve been getting better and better each week, and I think we’re going to continue to get better.”
A scout from Baldwin Wallace University was on hand to watch Prunty.
• The smooth baritone voice of Wadsworth girls basketball assistant coach Mark Postak filled in as public address announcer.
• Matt Lillibridge hit one free throw in the final 10 seconds of overtime to give Kent Roosevelt’s junior varsity a 49-48 victory. Alec Booth and Cameron Deener each had 11 points for Wadsworth.
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.