Henning and the Blue Devils surge past the Rockets


Blue Devils respond with a big second quarter to take charge of the game

BERLIN CENTER, OHIO (WKBN) – The Western Reserve Blue Devils overcame a slow start to pull away from the Lowellville Rockets Friday night 56-41.  The victory improves the Devils to 5-5 on the year, 2-2 in the MVAC.  The Rockets fall to 5-4, 0-4 in the league.

The Devils were led by senior guard Todd Henning with 19 points, including 3 trey’s, along with Ryan Gordon with 15 points and Noah Klasic with 12.  Gordon would pull down 5 rebounds to lead the Devils on the boards.

“In the beginning of the game, I shot three pretty bad three’s that I had just one fall, but I’m going to keep shooting because my teammates have confidence and I have confidence so I’m going to just keep shooting,” Henning explained his shooting mindset on the night.

After the Rockets grabbed a 12-7 lead at the end of the first quarter, the Blue Devils would take charge of the game in the second frame as they quickly put together a 10-0 run to hold a 17-12 lead at the midway point of the second period.  Following consecutive buckets by Vinny Balone, the Rockets would close the gap to just a point at 17-16 before the Devils closed the half with a 10-4 run to hold a 27-20 lead at intermission.

“I think on the defensive end we started to get some stops and we were able to get out into transition,” Blue Devils coach Pat Daltorio explained the big 20-point second quarter by his team.  “We were able to limit them to one shot, we were doing a good job of running the floor, and we were passing the ball up and keeping our eyes on the floor.”

But the Devils would really pull away from the Rockets at the start of the second half when they put together a 12-4 run to grab a 15-point, 39-24 lead with 4:57 remaining in the quarter.  They would hold a 42-29 advantage at the end of the stanza.

“With a young team, we lack a little bit of inexperience and Western Reserve is very well-coached and disciplined on the defense they ran and packed it in.  I think we were one for eighteen from three’s and shooting that way against a two-three zone, you’re going to struggle,” Rockets coach Matt Olson explained the key to the game.

The Rockets would make one last charge at the beginning of the fourth quarter with Anthony Lucente hitting a basket followed by a three by Ballone to cut the Rockets deficit down to just 8-points at 42-34 with 6:57 remaining in the contest.  The Blue Devils responded however, as they went on a 12-0 run to take a commanding 54-34 lead with only 3:27 left in the contest.  The Rockets closed the game with a 7-2 run to reach the final 56-41 score.

Lucente would lead the Rockets in the game with 13 points and 14 rebounds.  Ballone would add 11 points for the Rockets on the night.  John Loshuk would come off the bench to pull down 5 caroms.

“We seemed a little flat tonight.  We didn’t seem to have the energy that we normally do,” Olson said about his team that features three starting freshmen, a sophomore and one junior. “Not to make excuses, but we are young, we are just young and we have to get better.”

Both teams will return to action again next Tuesday as the Rockets will travel to MVAC opponent Sebring.  The Blue Devils will also be on the road Tuesday as they travel to Springfield.

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