Red Rovers too Much for Crusaders in Rotary Final
Easton Area goes on second half tear to beat Notre Dame, 63-39
Transition basketball, if played flawlessly, controls basketball games especially if a speed-laden team controls the game's flow.
Easton Area High School's boys basketball team took that type of control in the third quarter of Tuesday night's Easton Rotary Club Holiday Classic at Lafayette College.
The Red Rovers took full advantage of Notre Dame turnovers and its own stellar defense in the third quarter to ring up 14 unanswered – and mostly uncontested -- points.
That nearly flawless display of run-and-gun basketball opened a 20-point lead midway through the quarter and Easton coasted to a 63-39 victory over Notre Dame to notch the tournament championship.
James Middleton's 22-point performance paced the Red Rover offense and the junior forward was named the tournament's most valuable player. However, Middleton wasn't willing to take too much credit for Easton's tournament win.
"The MVP isn't the big thing. It's my teammates and coaches and everyone else," he said. "We thought we could pressure them into turnovers."
Easton coach Jim Hutnik noted the Rovers' defensive performance, which limited Notre Dame to 20 second half points, was the driving force behind their offensive explosion.
"We've always been a good defensive team," Hutnik said. "The defensive effort led to a lot of turnovers and easy buckets. We're very capable of that. I think this is as well as we've run the floor all season."
Easton (6-1) lead throughout the contest but the Crusaders stayed within shouting distance in the first half, mainly due to the inside presence of freshman Anthony Ross, who poured in 15 points.
But, the Red Rovers' pressing defense led to deflections, steals and turnovers that allowed the speedy Middleton and junior Lincoln Holley (15 points) the ability to dominate the open court with pinpoint passing, resulting in easy layups and jump shots.
"I think we allowed them to run their transition game," said Notre Dame coach Pat Boyle. "We weren't as aggressive in our offense. They limited a lot of that and got their shots in transition, because we didn't run our offense the way we wanted to."
Kohl had a big first half, scoring 11 of his 15 points, but was limited to four in the second half. Connor Reed chipped in 11 points for the Crusaders.
The game featured somewhat of a novelty with neither team committing less than seven personal fouls in each half. The result was neither team received "one-and-one" bonus free throws for non-shooting fouls. The teams combined for just 20 free throws for the contest.
Ryan Walsh 1 0-0 2, Noel Hightower 1 2-2 4, DeVante Queen 0 1-3 1, Chris Jackson 0 0-0 0, Jared Queen 2 0-0 6, Sean Dillon 1 0-0 3, James Middleton 10 1-1 22, Lincoln Holley 7 0-0 16, Tyler Price 0 0-0 0, Kadir McDonald 0 1-1 1, Desmond Cole 0 0-0 0, Gavin McCutcheon 3 0-0 9. Totals: 25 6-7 63.
NOTRE DAME (39)
Noah Miller 0 0-0 0, Stephen Conway 0 0-0 0, Dillon Huerta 0 0-0 0, Kevin Duffy 0 0-0 0, Connor Reed 4 0-0 11, Angel Caro 0 0-0 0, Jeffrey Barr 0 0-0 0, Ian Myers 0 0-0 0, Jared Miller 0 0-0 0, Adam Ambielli 3 2-2 9, Tyler Kohl 5 4-7 15, Anthony Ross 0 0-2 0, Connor Hughes 1 2-2 4. Totals: 13 8-13 39.
Easton – 12 15 27 9 – 63
Notre Dame – 7 12 15 5 – 39
Officials: Jim Barker and Kevin Boyle. Fouled out: None.
Three-point goals: Easton – J. Queen, Dillon, Middleton, Holley (2), McCutcheon (3); Notre Dame: Reed (3), Ambielli, Kohl.