By Sara Welch | Correspondent
Streetsboro handed Norton its first Metro Division loss of the season, securing a 51-49 last-second victory in a matchup Tuesday night.
"Norton wasn't going to come in here and go quietly. That's the best basketball team in our league. There's no doubt about it. They have it all. They're big and strong. They shoot the ball well. They have some ball-handlers. They play defense," Streetsboro head coach Nick Marcini said. "Being up, we knew they were going to make a run. It came down to us having the fortitude to hold it off and get it at the end. It got a little tick-tacky at the end with one second to go, but Sherman hit the first one, missed the second one and we kept them off the glass. We'll take it."
Marcini was commenting on the game's closing moments.
Norton (9-2, 5-1 PTC Metro) trailed 51-48 with just a second left on the clock when Tyler Sheman was fouled and sent to the charity strip for one final scoring opportunity. Sherman sunk his first shot and intentionally missed the second, hoping one of his teammates would be able to grab the rebound and manage a quick putback to tie the score.
However, the Rockets denied them any final scoring attempts and the ball bounced out of bounds as time expired.
After a close first quarter, Streetsboro jumped out to a comfortable 10-point lead before halftime. Some of this success came as a result of the eight steals the Rockets snatched in the first half.
Brandon Gency swiped four of those steals and Jordan Matusik had three more before the end of the game to lead a strong defensive effort.
Gency finished with a double-double consisting of 10 points and 11 rebounds, leading Streetboro (5-6, 4-2 PTC Metro) on the boards. Matusik led the Rockets in scoring after nailing five 3-pointers and totaling 17 points and five rebounds.
"Brandon has been struggling a little bit this year. We talked before the game, and I told him big players play in big games. He's a four-year stater and as a four-year stater he should be our leader and our best player out there," Marcini said.
"I think he responded great. He's taken the role as our point guard, so it's going to take away some of our scoring. He was undersized against Sherman and (Aaron) VanBuskirk tonight, but he's a strong kid and he manned up tonight and got the job done," Marcini said.
The Panthers challenged the Rockets in the second half, outscoring them 22-17 points in the third quarter and 8-5 in the fourth quarter. However, Streetsboro had built enough of a lead that even a last-second effort couldn't spoil the night.
Aaron VanBuskirk finished as the high scorer of the game and cleared a double-double with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Additionally, he had three assists, three blocks and one steal for Norton.