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Western Reserve starts and finishes strong against Margaretta

Mark Hazelwood • May 12, 2015 at 5:32 PM

It was a bad start for the Margaretta Polar Bears in their non-conference opener at Western Reserve Friday night.

But it was an even worse finish.

The Bears were outscored 15-1 in the opening five minutes of the contest, and after battling back in the middle two quarters, were outscored 21-7 in the fourth quarter of a 62-40 loss.

"We got in foul trouble early and missed a lot of shots, and Western came out and shot the ball well," Margaretta coach Troy Roth said. "That was tough to overcome.

"In the second quarter we had a good effort and were able to get back in the game, but we didn't start or finish well with a 6-point first quarter and a 7-point fourth. That's not going to beat anybody."

Meanwhile, Western's Nate Schmitt is making up for lost time.

The senior, who missed half the season a year ago with a back injury, connected on five 3-pointers and scored a game-high 21 points.

"We knew that about Nate all along," Western Reserve coach Chris Sheldon said. "The games prior to him getting hurt, he scored 15 and 17 on back-to-back nights. He shoots basketballs just about every hour of every day, and if he stays healthy he is going to open up a lot of eyes in our conference."

After opening the game with a 15-1 scoring run in the first five minutes, the Riders saw their lead trimmed to 33-29 at the 5:34 mark of the third quarter.

A basket by Darren Johnson and a pair of free throws from Nolan Todd allowed Western to push the lead up to 41-33 entering the final eight minutes.

Any chance the Polar Bears had of digging back into the game got blown up immediately to start the fourth as back-to-back 3-pointers by Schmitt and Todd just 37 seconds into the quarter gave the Riders a commanding 47-33 lead.

"Nate and Nolan are as good as any combo as you'll find at our level in Division III with their ability to score off the dribble and with perimeter jump shots," Sheldon said. "When you look at that fourth quarter, we go back-to-back on the 3-pointers and from there just pounded it inside and took over the paint with our size and strength."

Margaretta got within 11 at 51-40 with 4:31 left, but Western closed things out with an 11-0 run highlighted by a fastbreak steal and a twisting-and-turning layup by Schmitt with 2:16 left.

Todd followed Schmitt's 21 with 16 points and six rebounds on 6-of-9 shooting while Johnson added eight points and eight rebounds while Ethan Patrick added eight points and six rebounds.

Margaretta got 11 points and 11 rebounds from Devin Jones, and 10 points from Craig Galindo, but just 19 points from the rest of the team. However, the Bears also lost starters Austin Moore and David Brownell to a pair of fouls less than six minutes into the game.

"We missed a couple easy shots that could have gotten us within a possession or two," Roth said. "We played hard. We just didn't make shots.

"We'll be alright, we just have to find a couple kids to score besides Devin and Craig every night."

Sheldon admitted he didn't see the blowout win coming.

"It's one game, it's a long season," Sheldon said. "But I'm pretty pleased for opening night. They shocked me."

In the junior varsity game, Willie Roth's jumper with two defenders in his face with 1.8 seconds left gave the Roughriders a 49-47 win.

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