By Michael Leonard | Record Publising
In the recent past, the Kent Roosevelt boys basketball has always had a size advantage when playing Cuyahoga Falls.
That was not the case this year and Tuesday's game turned into a bit of a battle between the two teams' 6-foot-7 junior forwards.
The difference was simple: Falls' Angelo Cugini was a big part of his team's offense.
Roosevelt's Myles Wright, largely, was his team's offense.
Despite a 25-point, 15-rebound night from Wright, Roosevelt could not keep up with Falls' uptempo offense.
The Black Tigers emerged with a 55-45 win at Roosevelt, improving to 8-4 on the season. Meanwhile, Roosevelt's rebuilding season continued and the team fell to 3-8 on the year.
Rough Riders head coach Ben Dunlap praised his big man's effort, but also praised Falls' defense
"They have size and experience," Dunlap said. "They play very, very good defense and took us out of our offense a lot. They scouted us, so they know our guards are our leading scorers."
However, if Dunlap was impressed with Falls' defense, Black Tigers coach Rob Slone was not.
"I'm extremely upset with how we played defense tonight," Slone said. "Fundamentally, we were just OK and that's something we should be better at this late in the season. I think our kids were looking at records and thinking this was going to be easy. You can't take nights off if you want to be great."
Despite Slone's view, it should be noted that Roosevelt's only lead in the game was a 2-0 off a Joe Watts layup.
After that, Falls went on an 8-2 run, forcing Dunlap to call timeout with 5:10 left in the first quarter. Falls never trailed thereafter, although Roosevelt cut it 12-9 after one quarter.
Free-throw shooting was a major boon for Falls, as the Black Tigers went 17-of-22 on the night, compared to 10-of-14 for Roosevelt.
Cugini was big part of that, as he got eight of his team-high 14 points at the line. He also had 12 rebounds on the night.
"Cugini is a very good player," Dunlap said. "He's the real deal."
Down 27-20 at halftime, Roosevelt cut it to 27-23 early in the third quarter.
However, another 8-2 run from Falls pushed the lead out to double-digits, where it hovered the rest of the night.
The Rough Riders trailed 41-30 after three quarters.
Despite a nine-point fourth quarter from Wright, including Roosevelt's lone 3-pointer of the night, Falls' lead never went below eight points in the final eight minutes.
Roosevelt forward Joe Watts had 10 points and seven rebounds, but no other Rough Rider had more than five points on the night.
"Their guard scoring was non-existent, but I don't think their guard play was that bad," Slone said. "They had a lot of drives on us, so Wright didn't have to do that much. I don't think we took a single charge tonight."
Falls got 11 points each from guards Josh Ricker and Jay Slone.