Potters snap skid with 69-59 win over Warriors

EAST LIVERPOOL -The Potters withstood the Warriors’ charge.

A 9-0 run by West Branch pulled the Warriors to within one point with 2:53 left to play in the third quarter, but the East Liverpool boys countered with a run of their own to pull away for a 69-59 victory Tuesday night at Potter Fieldhouse.

With the win, the Potters are now 4-11 on the season. The win snapped East Liverpool’s four-game losing streak.

“Our kids got after it all night long,” third-year East Liverpool head coach Nate Conley said. “They worked hard. They got after it. We have had tough games all year.”

With the loss, the Warriors drop to 4-8.

“Basketball is a game of runs,” West Branch head coach Lou Sellaroli, who made his return to the bench this year, said. “They had their runs, and we had our runs.

“They have played a lot of good teams this year. They are well coached. They have some good players.

“We just didn’t finish. We got close, but we weren’t able to finish it off. It is tough having to play catch up.

“I am proud of our effort to get back into the game, but we have got to finish plays. We missed some foul shots. We missed some opportunities.”

Three players scored in double digits to lead the way for each team.

Hayden Cunningham netted a team-high 19 points to lead the way for East Liverpool, Kade Reynolds delivered 13 points and Derek Thompson ended up with 13 points. Cunningham and Reynolds each hit three 3-pointers in the game.

Also for the Potters, D.J. Austin tallied eight points, Austin Emmerling and Aaron Long each collected four points and John Rickerd and Isaac Davidson each recorded two points.

“We knew they had some good shooters,” Sellaroli said. “Cunningham is a good shooter.”

For the Warriors, Kip DeShields scored a game-high 21 points to lead the way, Beau Taylor recorded 13 points and Jerian Thomas tallied 10 points.

Also for West Branch, Jacob Griffith finished with seven points, Drake Lohnes ended up with five points and Zach Mucklo contributed three points.

“They slowed it down and pounded it inside,” Conley said. “I thought all four of our big kids did a good job. John Rickerd started on him, and he did a good job. We played tremendous defense against their big kid. Our guards did a good job on the perimeter. That is the best defense we have played all year.”

The Warriors scored the first five points of the game, but the Potters countered by scoring the next 13 points to force West Branch to take a timeout with 3:52 left to play in the quarter with the Potters out in front, 13-5. The Potters’ spurt was keyed by three 3-pointers.

The five-point lead proved to be the biggest lead of the game for the visitors, and once East Liverpool took the lead at 6-5, the Potters never trailed again.

East Liverpool led 17-13 at the end of the quarter.

The Potters used a pair of runs in the second stanza to keep the Warriors at bay. A putback by Thompson put the Potters ahead 25-17, and a 6-0 spurt capped by two free throws by Emmerling made the score 31-22 with 2:24 left to play before halftime.

Jerian Thomas drained a 3-pointer with about two seconds left in the half to pull the Warriors to within 35-30 at the break.

“They did a good job on the boards in the first half,” Sellaroli said. “We did a better job in the second half. I think that was the difference in the first half, but I think we responded in the second half. I don’t know what the exact numbers are, but I know we did better in the second half.”

In the third quarter, 3-pointers by Cunningham and Reynolds helped push the Potters lead out to 43-33. Things were going East Liverpool’s way, but the Warriors countered with a 9-0 run to pull within 43-42 on a three-point play by DeShields with 2:53 showing on the scoreboard.

The Potters responded with another mini spurt to take a 49-44 lead into the fourth quarter.

“I knew we weren’t a 3-11 basketball team,” Conley said. “We beat a pretty good team tonight who is from a tough conference. We are going to continue to work hard and improve.”

East Liverpool ripped off an early 6-0 in the quarter to build a 55-46 lead, and the Potters were able to hold off the Warriors from that point. The Potters led by as many as 12 points in the quarter.

“This is a tough place to play no matter what,” Sellaroli said. “They keep playing hard. They made the plays down the stretch.”

After committing 35 turnovers in Friday night’s loss to Steubenville, East Liverpool did a much-better job taking care of the basketball against West Branch. The Potters committed 13 turnovers in the win over the Warriors.

“We did a much-better job,” Conley said. “I think part of it is we want to go 100 m.p.h. We need to change the tempo. We need to change the pace.

“We did some different things tonight. I was really proud of our kids for listening to what we told them to do.”

“Our guards played well tonight. D.J. Austin played really well. Kade had a tremendous game.”

East Liverpool won the JV game, 66-56. Dallas Brewer recorded a game-high 17 points to lead the way for the Potters, while Owen Crawford and Davidson each delivered 10 points. Luke Wallbrown tallied 10 points for the Warriors.

East Liverpool’s next game is Tuesday at home against Claymont.

“Claymont is really good this year,” Conley said. “They play in a tough conference. They play in the ECOL, and they are one of the top teams in the conference.

“We still have some things we need to work on. The kids worked hard tonight, and they practiced well. I think that was one of the biggest things with us winning the game.

West Branch is scheduled to return to action Friday night at Salem.

“It is a league game,” Sellaroli said. “It is a rivalry game. It starts the second half of our league play. They are a good team. They are balanced. They have a good player. It is going to be tough going into Salem.”

East Liverpool honored the senior members of its boys’ and girls’ swim teams at halftime.