Tournament seedings can sometimes be thrown out the window. No matter what the regular season records are of teams, they will all come out to play the most spirited games they have all season in tournaments. Such was the case with the East Palestine Bulldogs giving the Campbell Memorial Red Devils their best shot before the Devils pulled away with a 65-48 victory in the Division IV Boys Tournament game Friday night.
“Our kids believed,” Bulldogs coach Sean McKeown said. “We were prepared, our kids were prepared. We knew every player, we broke down every kid, and our kids believed. That’s why it’s so hard. We believed we could do this, and we certainly had our opportunities.”
“I don’t think you can compare them to anybody in the ITCL. There are certain styles in the ITCL, but we knew we were going to see a team that played with the tempo, that had the size and athleticism that Campbell did. And when we started scheduling we scheduled Ursuline, Youngstown Christian, and Warren JFK to kind of show us how to play against that style. To expose us to certain things. The ITCL is more of a controlled tempo.”
The Red Devils controlled the game throughout, holding a 16-8 first quarter advantage, and a 32-23 halftime lead. The Devils would go up by a game-high 15-points three times in the third quarter and lead by a 45-32 count at the end of the period.
But the Bulldogs would no go away quietly as they began to chip away at the Devils advantage at the beginning of the final stanza. When the Bulldogs senior guard Billy Bibby connected on a three pointer from the right corner, the Dogs pulled to within four points at 49-45 with 4:03 remaining in the game. However, the Dogs would not get any closer as the Devils responded with10-2 run over the next three minutes to put the game away.
“I thought we had a real chance of winning it,” Bibby said. “They got one of those runs, I think it was a 10-2 run or something like that. That’s where it kind of went downhill from there.”
The Bulldogs were led by Nick Monteleone with 13 points on the night, with Bibby and Colin Reidy adding 9 points a piece. The Bulldogs close the season with a 5-17 record.
The Red Devils were led by George Billings with 13 points, while D.J. Harrison and Stephen Elash each contributed 11 points a piece. The Devils outrebounded the Bulldogs 27-15. The Devils will now play the winner of the Akron Manchester-Canton Central Catholic game Monday night at home.
“First of all, I admire our seniors. We have a great group of seniors that gave us everything they had every single day,” McKeown said. “It certainly isn’t easy as a senior to have a whole new coaching staff come in and change everything you’ve known. And they did a great job of learning, adjusting, and excepting our coaches and our coaching. I couldn’t be more prouder of the group of seniors we have.”
COURTESY: Lowell Spencer – ITCLFootball.net