WADSWORTH — The Wadsworth boys basketball team took care of business Tuesday night.
In a non-league game with bad weather looming and a decent but non-vocal crowd in attendance, the Grizzlies got positive contributions from a number of players in rolling to a 63-42 victory over Barberton.
“I was pretty proud or our guys and the way they responded without a big crowd,” Wadsworth coach Mike Schmeltzer Jr. said.
In raising their record to 9-6 and dropping the Magics to 6-9, the Grizzlies got 13 points and five rebounds from center Kyle Prunty, eight points and a game-high 14 rebounds from power forward Joel Kipfer, 12 points and six boards from small forward Austin White and five points, four rebounds and three assists from guard Patrick Long.
Just as key were the seven points, six rebounds and two assists that Anthony Palecek supplied off the bench on a night when all 14 Wadsworth players in uniform saw action and 11 scored.
“I’ve lived through the days when Barberton was a huge rivalry,” said Schmeltzer, a Wadsworth graduate. “You try to tell your kids how important it is when you’re playing one of your rivals.”
The Magics are a far cry from the program they used to be, but they played well enough to tie the game at 29 with 5:20 left in the third period.
The game was virtually lifeless to that point — neither crowd ever really got involved — but the Grizzlies generated their own energy and went on a 20-2 run over the next 8:29.
Wadsworth increased its pressure, forced some turnovers and got easy buckets in the spurt, during which six players scored.
“We started to pick it up on defense, we rebounded the ball and pushed it in transition,” Kipfer said. “That was the main thing. We were making easy buckets in transition instead of hard ones in the half-court.”
Both teams played out the string from that point, as there were only four free throws attempted in the fourth quarter — and three of those came when Barberton’s Brandon Taylor-Mitchell was fouled on a 3-point attempt.
Taylor-Mitchell, who hit three 3-pointers, led the Magics with 14 points, while Jeffrey Woolridge had seven points off the bench and point guard Jeff White finished with six points, five rebounds and six assists.
“They were hitting threes early,” Kipfer said. “We finally got out on the shooters and were able to pull away.”
Though it spent decent chunks of the game in a basic 2-3 zone once Barberton got into its offense, Wadsworth successfully utilized half- or full-court pressure most of the night.
“We’ve got enough guys that we should be able to pressure teams most of the night,” Schmeltzer said. “We want to apply pressure and take guys out of what they do.
“All our guys did a nice job. Everyone who went in did exactly what they needed to do.”
Ben Bingham had nine points as Wadsworth won the junior varsity game 47-33.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @RickNoland.