EAST LIVERPOOL - A 17-0 scoring run encompassing the first five minutes of the third quarter broke open a fast-paced game as the East Liverpool Potters defeated the Minerva Lions, 78-64, Tuesday at Potter Fieldhouse.
Leading 42-32 at intermission, the Potters roared out the gate in the third quarter with their running game clicking on all cylinders. Hayden Cunningham led the burst with nine points. Austin Emmerling, D.J. Austin, Kade Reynolds and Aaron Long contributed two points each to the outburst, which finally ended when Minerva's Chase Cappelli scored with 2:12 remaining in the third quarter.
The win improves the Potters' ledger to 10-5. Minerva is 3-11.
"Coming off of a loss to Claymont last Tuesday, we weren't in a good mood," Reynolds said. "We knew that Minerva is in our district and that we had to play hard to show them what we could do. We handled our business in the third quarter. Defense was the key to that big run."
East Liverpool had three players reach double figures. Reynolds led the way with 25 points, followed by Cunningham with 20 and Austin 13. Displaying sharp passing, Austin and Cunningham each dished out eight assists. Reynolds pulled down five of the Potters' 23 rebounds. Long blocked four shots and along with Emmerling and Owen Crawford created a defensive presence in the lane. Cunningham and Reynolds each had four steals.
Jantsen Locke led Minerva with 26 points. He also grabbed eight of Minerva's 22 rebounds.
Nick Clapper hit three treys on this way to 15 points. Austin Catlett scored nine points while grabbing four rebounds. Joe Gill passed out four assists and scored eight points.
"We got out in transition," said East Liverpool coach Nate Conley of the Potters' third-quarter success. "We did a little bit of everything well in that span. We rebounded. We passed the ball very well. We play solid defense."
Holding a 19-13 lead after the first quarter, the Potters opened up a 12-point lead, 28-16, at the 4:52 mark of the second quarter. The Lions quickly cut the Potters' lead to six, 28-22, on three-pointers by Gill and Clapper. East Liverpool answered with three-pointers by Davidson and Austin, pushing the score to 34-23.
Locke tallied eight of Minerva's final 10 points of the quarter, giving him 19 for the half.
"Jantsen Locke is an outstanding player," Conley said. "He is so fundamentally sound. He works extremely hard and doesn't quit."
On the receiving end of two sharp Cunningham passes, Reynolds notched East Liverpool's final five points of the second quarter, boosting the Potters' halftime lead to 42-32.
"We seemingly broke their momentum some in the second quarter," Minerva coach Pepper Locke said. "We were penetrating and hitting the open man. We hit four three-pointers in the second quarter."
After an outstanding third quarter, the fourth quarter was a disappointment for the Potters who were outscored 20-10 by the Lions in the final frame.
"We showed a lack of defensive effort in the fourth quarter," Conley said. "We got complacent and as a coaching staff, we weren't very happy with that."
East Liverpool hit 28 of 50 shots for 56 percent. Minerva shot 46 percent (23 of 50) from the floor.
"Our kids played hard," Locke said. "Even though they were down, they didn't give up. I do appreciate their attitude and their competitiveness."
Conley made good use of his bench, regularly rotating the nine players in his primary rotation.
"With us not having played a game in a week and hardly practicing due to the weather, it was good to get contributions from so many players," Conley said. "John Rickerd came in and did a great job off the bench. I was impressed with the passing of Hayden Cunningham, D.J. Austin and Kade Reynolds as they made crisp, fundamental passes, instead of trying to make fancy ones."
There was no junior varsity game.
E. LIVERPOOL: 19-23-26-10-78
MINERVA SCORING: Austin Catlett 4-0-9, Logan Coe 0-0-0, Joe Gill 3-0-8, Jantsen Locke 9-4-26, Dakota Hudy 1-0-2, Chase Cappelli 2-0-4, Wylie Brown 0-0-0, Nick Clapper 4-4-15, Jake Stryffeler 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 23, 8-14: 64.
EAST LIVERPOOL SCORING: Owen Crawford 2-0-4, Isaac Davidson 2-1-6, D.J. Austin 5-1-13, Hayden Cunningham 7-6-20, John Rickerd 0-0-0, Zack English 0-0-0, Kade Reynolds 9-3-25, Austin Emmerling 2-0-4, Aaron Long 1-4-6. TEAM TOTALS: 28, 15-19: 78.
Three-point goals: Minerva 10 (Locke 4, Clapper 3, Catlett), East Liverpool (Reynolds 4, Austin 2, Davidson).