Kline and Honeycutt make clutch shots to keep Newton Falls perfect in the AAC

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The Tigers keep finding ways to win this year as they improve to 9-1

NEW WATERFORD, OHIO (WKBN) – The Newton Falls Tigers survived a ferocious comeback attempt by the Crestview Rebels Tuesday night to survive for a hard-fought 52-46 AAC Blue Tier victory.  The win improves the Tigers to 9-1 on the season and remains perfect in the league at 4-0.

“The score might look like this wasn’t a good game for Newton Falls, but I’m actually a lot more pleased than people would think for this win,” Tigers coach Roy Sembach remarked.  “Coming down here on a Tuesday night after the long break from school. I was very pleased overall with the victory.”

The Rebels, who fall to 4-7 on the year and 2-2 in the AAC, trailed by as much as 10-points late in the third quarter before they made a 14-6 run to get within two at 45-43 with only 1:58 remaining in the contest courtesy of an Anthony Cusick three from the top of the key.

The Tigers would answer with a basket by Joey Kline with 1:36 remaining, and then six consecutive clutch free throws from Josh Honeycutt in the games final 40 seconds to seal the victory.  The Tigers would knock down 11 of 17 free throws on the night.

“As a team, we just tried to stay calm,” Honeycutt reflected back on the final minutes of the contest. “Just rebound the ball and not turn it over. Then make the free throws when we got them.”

Kline would lead the Tigers in the scorebook with 21 points while Honeycutt added 14 points and 11 rebounds.  Cole Marquette would add another 5 caroms to help the Tigers on the boards.

“I was worried about this game coming in,” Tigers coach Roy Sembach admitted.  “Honestly, I’m so pleased.  We have won seven in a row, nine and one, and we have had our projected starting lineup on the floor this year for about four seconds.  We have had a total varsity team for zero seconds.  We have had injury after injury and we have had one starter out for about six games now.”

The two teams battled back and forth in the first quarter as they were knotted 9-9 at the end of the frame.  The Tigers would then put together a 10-3 run to start the second stanza to lead 19-12 with 4:56 left in the period.  They would hold just a 4-point, 26-22 lead at the intermission.

“They came out strong, which was kind of surprising from last year because obviously, they weren’t as good last year.  They hung around and we tried to play hard and we just came out with the win,” Honeycutt described the hard-fought affair.

The Tigers would slowly pull ahead of the Rebels in the third period as they led 39-29 with 3:20 left in the quarter, and held a 39-32 lead at the end of the frame following a three by the Rebels Kirtland Miller before the buzzer.

Once again the two teams would battle back and forth, trading baskets until the Rebels Tony Perorazio hit a basket with 2:28 remaining made it 45-40, followed by Cusick’s three that cut it to 45-43 at the 1:58 mark.  That is when Kline and Honeycutt made their clutch points.

“I’m extremely proud of just the strides we have made as a program,” Rebels coach Rick Gates remarked.  “I’m proud of our kids for just battling the whole game.  We now feel that we can play and compete with most of our league.  We have a few steps to take on the ladder yet, but we are feeling good about ourselves that we are making strides.

Leading the way for the Rebels was Perorazio with 13 in the contest followed by Cusick with 11.  Kirtland Miller, Jack Yerkey, and Cusick would all yank down 5 rebounds apiece to pace the Rebels on the boards.

The Tigers will try to keep the momentum rolling when they travel to Brookfield next Tuesday night in their next contest.  The Rebels will try to bounce back this Friday night when they host Campbell Memorial.

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