Published: Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Southington, Lordstown to meet in tourney final
Dwayne Lettie and Trey Trietz led the Wildcats past Youngstown Christian.
By DOUG CHAPIN
LORDSTOWN With victories Tuesday, Southington and Lordstown set up an all-Northeastern Athletic Conference championship game in the Lordstown Holiday Basketball Tournament.
Chalker got 22 points from Dwayne Lettie and 20 from Trey Tietz on the way to a 59-56 win over Youngstown Christian, while the host team had three players in double figures in a 59-49 triumph over Heartland Christian School of Columbiana.
The consolation game is scheduled Friday at 6 p.m., followed by the championship game at 7:30.
Youngstown Christian increased a 16-14 first-quarter lead to 23-16 on a 3-pointer at 5:27 of the second quarter by Edward Gonda, who led all scorers in the game and on the night with 28 points.
The Eagles held a 27-24 lead at halftime, trailed 36-33 midway through the third quarter, but still led 41-39 after a three-point play by Gonda off a feed by John Pecchia.
Southington (4-1) scored the last eight points of the third quarter, and a three-point play by freshman Alex Tietz 19 seconds into the final quarter gave the Wildcats a 50-41 advantage. Chalker didn't score again for exactly five minutes, but the defense was up to the task, holding the Eagles (2-4) to five points in that span.
However, Youngstown Christian refused to go away and still had a chance when Brad Gilanyi missed two free throws for Chalker with 3.7 seconds remaining.
Lettie, who worked hard on the boards all night, tapped at the ball a couple of times, eating up precious seconds, and the Eagles could not get off a possible game-tying 3-pointer.
"Tonight we seemed to take a step backward. I don't know if it was the whole holiday thing, playing after having two days off, but we had been going in the right direction and tonight we just didn't take care of the ball well," Chalker coach Mike Karr said.
In addition to his 22 points, Lettie added 15 rebounds. Trey Tietz contributed five assists to his 20 points. Kevin Henline contributed six rebounds and Gilanyi had four assists.
"We usually look to Dwayne inside and Trey outside for our points, and usually Kevin is our third scorer, but he was under the weather tonight," Karr said.
Playing Lordstown in the championship game means the Wildcats and Devils will meet at least three times this season. Karr said he was glad to get the opportunity to face Youngstown Christian, a team Chalker has never played.
"You always want to play teams you are not familiar with," Karr said. "It helps keep you prepared for tournament play in March."
Gonda scored his 28 points on 11 of 22 shooting. Olonzo Johnson added nine points to the Eagles' attack and Pecchia had five assists.
Youngstown played without starting center David Colbert who was injured in the Eagles' last game, and Gonda played with a touch of the flu, according to Youngstown Christian coach Anthony Agresta.
"That hurt us inside not having Colbert and we had to limit Gonda's minutes a little bit, but we are not making excuses," Agresta said. "Two of our other three losses were close, but the guys are disappointed tonight, playing close is no consolation.
"Are we making progress this season? Yes. Are we satisfied with close losses? No."
Agresta was positive the Eagles will continue to improve this season.
"I am proud of our effort tonight. We just have to make better decisions on the floor. It's knowing who your better shooters are and getting the ball to them. A couple of times we got a little harried and we had to call timeouts to settle things down."
Lordstown (4-2) got off to a 12-2 start then played just well enough to stay comfortably ahead. The lead was 17-6 at the quarter break and 27-16 at halftime. The Red Devils lead was never more than 12 in the first half and a 7-0 Heartland run to start the second half left Lordstown ahead 27-23. That was as close as the Lions (6-9) would come as Lordstown opened the advantage to 42-30 after three quarters and led by as many as 16 on a couple occasions in the fourth quarter.
"We got a win, but we have some corrections to make on defense," said coach Ron Purnell, in his first year at Lordstown. "Our defensive philosophy is to press the entire game and we just didn't play Lordstown defense for stretches. I am proud of their hustle and work ethic, but we have to keep attacking and learn to put teams away."
Senior Josh Lackey was strong inside with 17 points and nine rebounds, and guards Nate Rech and Scott Chaffee added 15 and 11 points, respectively.
Chaffee also had eight steals and both had three assists.
"This group does a nice job, but sometimes we are a little too unselfish," Purnell said. "We have mainly guards on the floor and we've got some experience, but we have a tendency to pass the ball too much."
Cody Patterson had 14 points and nine rebounds, Johathan King had 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Justin Storm added 10 points for Heartland Christian.