WELLSVILLE -The Tigers outran the Potters.
The Wellsville boys' basketball team raced out to a 17-2 lead, and the Tigers had to hold off a late charge by East Liverpool en route to a 55-51 victory Friday night at Wellsville in the season opener for both teams.
"We got and ran, and we ran often," Wellsville (1-0) head coach Bug Thompson said about his team's fast start. "We were running, and that is what we wanted to do."
Wellsville’s Brendon Carr and East Liverpool’s Hayden Cunningham fight for possession on Friday. (Photo courtesy of Jimmy Joe Savage)
East Liverpool did not respond well at the beginning of the game.
"This a very tough place to play," East Liverpool head coach Nate Conley said. "They are a veteran team. They are a good basketball team. They are going to win a lot of games. Tonight we took one on the chin. We will have to see how we react."
Three players scored in double digits to lead the way for the Tigers.
Wellsville 55, East Liverpool 51
EL (51): Hayden Cunningham 6 2-6 15, Kade Reynolds 1 0-0 2, Derek Thompson 3 4-9 10, Austin Emmerling 1 1-3 3, D.J. Austin 5 0-0 12, Aaron Long 0 0-0 0, John Rickerd 0 0-0 0, Owen Crawford 3 0-0 8, Ryian Burson 0 0-0 0. Totals: 19 7-18 51.
WE (55): Camden Douglas 5 5-9 16, Nate Scott 4 1-5 11, Antonio Fultz 0 0-0 0, Brendon Carr 3 0-0 6, Jordan Sloan 5 5-12 18, Sam McIntosh 1 2-2 4. Totals: 18 13-28 55.
EL 10-12-12-17 - 51
WE 19-16-08-12 - 55
3-Pointers: East Liverpool: 6 (Cunningham 2, Austin 2, Crawford 2); Wellsville: 6 (Sloan 3, Scott 2, Douglas)
Jordan Sloan netted a game-high 18 points to go along with four rebounds, Camden Douglas delivered 16 points, four assists and five steals and Nate Scott tallied 11 points to go along with three assists and three steals.
Also, Brendon Carr recorded six points and six rebounds, and Sam McIntosh ended up with four points.
Three players also scored in double digits for the Potters.
Hayden Cunningham contributed a team-high 15 points, D.J. Austin collected 12 points and Derek Thompson chipped in with 10 points.
Also, Owen Crawford delivered eight points, Austin Emmerling ended up with three points and Kade Reynolds recorded two points.
The Tigers entered the game with the majority of their team from last season when Wellsville advanced all the way to the Ohio Division IV Northeast District Co-Final at Struthers before falling to Mogadore. Josh Carter was the lone senior on last year's team.
On the other hand, the Potters graduated six players from a 19-win team. East Liverpool advanced to the Ohio Division II Eastern District Co-Final before falling to St. Clairsville down at Ohio University Eastern.
"They all played varsity before," Conley said about the Tigers. "I wanted to call a quick timeout as soon as they throw the jump ball up to calm our team down. They were so nervous and so amped up. We never got comfortable in the first half. In the second half, we calmed down."
Thompson said he expects the Potters to have another strong season this year.
"I figured they would have a good team," he said. "All of those kids practiced every day against those seniors last year. That has to help you. Playing against good competition makes you better. They are going to be fine.
"Nate does a heck of a job with them. They have some new faces this year. We went through that last year. With young players, you are going to have good days and you are going to have bad days."
Wellsville led 19-10 after the first quarter. Austin scored on a layup as time expired to pull the Potters within nine points.
Douglas scored to open the second quarter putting the Tigers up 21-10. At that point, the Potters had committed 10 turnovers in the game. East Liverpool ended the game with 21 turnovers, while Wellsville had 19.
Later in the quarter, the team's traded 3-pointers, and Scott drained a 3-pointer with around five seconds left in the stanza to give the hosts a 35-22 lead at the half.
"In the second quarter we got away from what we were doing," Thompson said. We wanted to run, but we wanted to run under control. We wanted to move the ball, but they would come down and shoot the first opportunity they had.
"We had some guys in foul trouble. We wanted to milk the clock at the end, but we threw the ball away three times in the final two minutes."
East Liverpool ended the third quarter on a 10-2 run to pull within 43-34 entering the fourth.
Conley said his team was able to get back into the game because of its "defense."
In the fourth quarter, the Potters got as close as 51-46, but the Tigers converted just enough shots from the free-throw line to pull out the win.
"We are a very-good shooting team, but we weren't able to make a shot," Conley said. "We were able to get some steals and get out into transition.
"I'm not upset at all. We will bounce back. Don't get me wrong, we have a lot of work to do. Sometimes, you take a pounding."
The Tigers converted just 13 of 28 shots from the charity stripe.
"Our foul shooting was horrendous down the stretch," Thompson said. "They are going to be doing a lot of running tomorrow, a lot of running."
East Liverpool won the JV game, 47-37. Joey Bickerton netted 11 points for the Potters, and Ryian Burson ended up with 10. Devon Smith tallied a game-high 12 points for the Tigers.
East Liverpool plays tonight at home against Zanesville. Wellsville plays again Tuesday at Beaver Local.