COPLEY — Four games into this season, it was apparent the going could be tough for Cloverleaf’s boys basketball team.
That’s when versatile 6-4 junior Connor Ploucha was ruled out for the remainder of the campaign with a torn left patella tendon. Another key player, senior Brady Kotlarek, had suffered a season-ending right wrist injury in the preseason.
The undermanned Colts lost again Friday night, 63-43 at Copley in a Suburban League matchup. They were never close despite getting a relentless 26-point, 19-rebound performance from 6-5 junior center Dillon Mullins.
The defeat made the Colts 1-18 and winless in 13 league games. It did nothing, though, to diminish the good things coach Marty Ryan has seen throughout the season from his scrappy team.
“The guys continue to practice every day and work hard,” he said. “They’re a good group of athletes and I enjoy working with them every day.
“They could have thrown in the towel. We’ve faced adversity, but we keep coming back to play hard every night. I like their camaraderie. They pull for each other. They’re a close group.”
Senior forward Brandon Chillious led Copley (7-13, 5-9) with 21 points. Senior guards Will Thomas and Todd Williams netted 12 and 10, respectively.
The Indians’ trademark is their full-court defensive pressure, and they used it to take control of the game immediately, forcing seven Cloverleaf turnovers in the first quarter to lead 22-8.
Six of Copley’s nine first-quarter baskets were layups, most of them after forcing a Colts mistake.
“With the athletes in our senior class, we’ve been successful pressing full-court,” Indians coach Mark Dente said. “Early on, our 3-point shooting was pretty good. The ball movement was good, we found the open man and we took rhythm shots.”
Senior guards Will Andrew and Larry Spear hit consecutive 3-pointers to open the second quarter, boosting the Indians’ lead to 33-14. Copley led 37-19 at halftime and 54-27 after three quarters.
A bright note for Cloverleaf was its work on the boards, totaling 43 rebounds to Copley’s 30. That was due in large part to Mullins, who compiled his 26 points and 19 rebounds in about 26 minutes of play.
Mullins used a variety of inside moves to make 13-of-24 field goal attempts.
“We got the ball to Dillon and he did a nice job,” Ryan said. “He finished and he made very good efforts on the boards.”
Adam Podolak, a 6-1 senior, was impressive coming off the bench, scoring eight points and grabbing six rebounds. Another reserve, junior Damian Tripp, showed a knack for getting the ball to the open man, dishing six assists.
Contact Mike Peticca at email@example.com.
Copley 63, Cloverleaf 43
CLOVERLAF 8 11 8 16 — 43
COPLEY 22 15 17 9 — 63
Cloverleaf — Braedon Hansen 2-1-5, Andrew Jarrett 0-0-0, Dillon Mullins 13-0-26, Matt Geig 0-0-0, Ryan O’Callaghan 0-0-0, Adam Podolak 4-0-8, Damian Tripp 1-1-3, Troy Kapeluck 0-1-1, AJ Timken 0-0-0, Garrison Flora 0-0-0. TOTALS: 20-3-43.
Copley — Will Thomas 5-2-12, Todd Williams 4-0-10, Brandon Chillious 8-5-21, Larry Spear 2-0-6, Will Andrew 1-0-3, Larnell Nealy 3-1-8, Justin Hovorka 1-1-3, Austin Brenner 0-0-0, Hayden Neal 0-0-0, Conner Huth 0-0-0, Daniel Ester 0-0-0, Jarrod Bruderly 0-0-0, Jeffrey Thomas 0-0-0, Trey Neal 0-0-0. TOTALS: 24-9-63.
3-point goals — Spear 2, Williams 2, Nealy, Andrew. Rebounds — Cloverleaf 43 (Mullins 19), Copley 30 (Thomas 5, Chillious 5). Assists — Cloverleaf 13 (Tripp 6), Copley 14 (Williams 4). Records — Cloverleaf (1-18, 0-13), Copley (7-13, 5-9). Junior varsity — Copley 69, Cloverleaf 32.