EAST LIVERPOOL - Anyone who has watched the Syracuse men's basketball team play know there are multiple ways to attack the 2-3 zone.
On Tuesday night, the Potters used a combination of the 3-point shot as well as drives to the basket to open up the Beavers' zone. In the end, Derek Thompson recorded a double-double and the East Liverpool boys' basketball team knocked Beaver Local from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 62-51 victory at Potter Fieldhouse.
With the win over their county rivals, the Potters are now 1-5 on the season. The win snaps East Liverpool's six-game losing streak dating back to last year's Ohio Division II Eastern District Co-Final loss to St. Clairsville.
East Liverpool’s Hayden Cunningham looks for an opening on Tuesday against Beaver Local at Potter Fieldhouse. (Photo courtesy of Jimmy Joe Savage)
"We jumped out by 10, and we decide to pull it out," East Liverpool coach Nate Conley said. "We used sort of a stall offense to make their defense come out and play us.
"They like to play their zone defense, and when they pulled it out Jake had to make a choice. They could either sit back in the zone being comfortable with us being up by 10 points, or they could come out and play us.
"They did what I thought they would do. They came out of the zone to play us. We made their defense play in a way they are not accustomed to playing. Overall, we did a pretty good job of scoring against their zone."
East Liverpool 62, Beaver Local 51
BL 16-07-10-18 - 51
EL 20-11-16-15 - 62
BL (51): Chase Hilliard 3 4-5 10, Jared Lyder 7 5-8 19, Brandon Fetty 1 0-2 2, Ethan Campbell 1 0-0 3, Troy Hudson 3 2-2 10, Zack Mick 2 0-0 5, Chandler Cornell 0 0-0 0, Josh Underwood 1 0-0 2, Matt Chamberlain 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 11-17 51.
EL (62): D.J. Austin 3 2-2 8, Hayden Cunningham 7 0-2 18, Kade Reynolds 3 2-2 11, Austin Emmerling 1 0-0 2, Derek Thompson 8 2-2 18, Owen Crawford 0 1-2 1, Matt Hilditch 0 0-0 0, John Rickerd 0 0-0 0, Ryian Burson 0 0-0 0, Aaron Long 1 3-5 5. Totals: 23 10-15 62.
3-Pointers: Beaver Local: 4 (Hudson 2, Mick, Campbell); East Liverpool: 6 (Cunningham 3, Reynolds 3)
The loss drops the Beavers to 4-1.
"It came down to toughness," Beaver Local coach Jake Walgate said. "They wanted the ball. We got a lot of deflections and we caused a lot of turnovers. We are used to doing that, but there were times where we would deflect the ball and we wouldn't get it. There would be 50/50 balls, and they were able to get on the floor and get the ball. In those situations, they ended up getting two points."
Thompson played a key role for the Potters on the inside, while Hayden Cunningham and Kade Reynolds did plenty of damage from the outside. Thompson netted a team-high 18 points and 14 rebounds to lead the way for East Liverpool.
"He could do that every night," Conley said about Thompson's performance. "He has to have that mindset. He has the ability to be a dominant force. He needs to do that every night."
Cunningham contributed 17 points and Reynolds delivered 11. Cunningham and Reynolds each drained three 3-pointers.
Also for the Potters, D.J. Austin tallied eight points, Aaron Long collected five points and Austin Emmerling ended up with two points. Finally, Owen Crawford recorded one point.
The Potters controlled the boards against the Beavers. East Liverpool outrebounded Beaver Local, 32-16.
"We had a great day of practice yesterday," Conley said. "We were able to break down some film, and we noticed we were giving up a lot of second and third chances. We knew we had to limit them to one shot.
"We had a great day of practice, and we got back to on fundamentals and boxing out. We wanted to limit them to one shot, and we were able to do that."
Three players scored in double digits for the Beavers. Jared Lyder recorded a game-high 19 points to lead the way, while Chase Hilliard and senior-sharpshooter Troy Hudson each delivered 10 points.
Also for Beaver, Zack Mick contributed five points, Ethan Campbell collected three points and Brandon Fetty and Josh Underwood each finished with two points.
Lyder and Hudson each pulled down four rebounds.
At times, both teams had difficulty taking care of the basketball. The Potters committed 22 turnovers, while the Beavers committed 20. East Liverpool had 13 turnovers in the first half while, while Beaver Local had 12.
Both teams came out strong to start the game. The first quarter was played at a fast pace. A basket by Mick put the Beavers up 9-5 with 5:40 left in the stanza resulting in Conley calling a timeout.
Led by Reynolds, the Potters responded. Reynolds drained three 3-pointers in the quarter, and a 7-0 spurt helped catapult the Potters to a 20-16 lead after one quarter of play.
"Kade Reynolds and Aaron Long carried us in the first half when we were dealing with foul trouble," Conley said.
East Liverpool extended its lead in the second quarter. A 3-pointer by Cunningham put the Potters out in front 31-21. The hosts led 31-23 at halftime.
"It came down to the little things," Walgate said. "We had a couple of opportunities we let slip away. We would make some nice plays defensively, and then we couldn't convert on offense. Then, there were situations where we would score on offense and then our defense couldn't get stops.
"We just couldn't get into a rhythm. All season our defense lead to our offense. That didn't happen tonight."
Beaver Local cut its deficit to 33-29 on a 3-pointer by Hudson in the third quarter, but the Potters were once again able to counter and build up their advantage.
A 7-0 surge put East Liverpool up 40-29, and another 7-0 surge made the score 47-31 late in the stanza. The Potters led 47-33 after three quarters of play.
"Coach Walgate has done a fantastic job with them," Conley said. "They are going to be a tough out. They have some good players. They have good senior leaders. They work well together on the floor. I was cared more for this game than for any other game this season.
The Potters led by as many as 17 points on two occasions in the fourth quarter before recorded the 11-point victory.
"It's tough to lose to a rival, but I hate to lose," Walgate said. "I hate to lose any game."
East Liverpool has now won 10-straight games against Beaver Local.
"We knew they were a good team," Walgate said. "We had seen them play. They have played a brutal schedule. We knew they were a good team."
East Liverpool won the JV game. 58-46. Briar Meek contributed a game-high 14 points for the Potters, and Joey Bickerton and Zack Adkins each netted 12 points. Conner Hall tallied 11 points for the Beavers, and Hayden Grafton netted 10 points.
Beaver Local plays Friday at Howland, while East Liverpool travels across the river to take on local-rival Oak Glen.
"We told the kids in the locker room that we need to forget about this game and move on," Walgate said. "At the beginning of the season we are going to practice every day like lost our last game. We haven't had to deal with that yet, but we are going to see how we show up tomorrow, Thursday and Friday for our game. We are going to have to be ready to go."
The Potters have had some difficulty playing at Oak Glen in the past.
"We needed to get that win," Conley said. "The kids were able to enjoy it, but we still have work to do. There are things we need to improve on."
East Liverpool's game Saturday night against Big Red down at the Crimson Center has been moved up to a 4 p.m. JV start.