GREEN: When Nordonia senior Nick Piotrowski released his jump shot Friday night against host Green it felt pure every time.
Piotrowski’s smooth stroke from near the basket and beyond the 3-point arc proved to be key reasons why Nordonia was able to defeat previously undefeated Green 74-72 in a showdown between the Suburban League’s top two teams.
Piotrowski, a 5-foot-11 guard, scored a career-high 31 points and had six steals to lead the Knights (10-2, 7-0) before a raucous crowd.
“We played hard as a team and this is a huge win for us,” Piotrowski said. “That is the loudest I have ever heard a gym. It was ridiculous.
“They packed the stands even before the JV game started. We knew what to expect coming in and we are just fortunate to beat them on their home court.”
Dan Fanelly, a 6-6 senior forward, was equally impressive for the Bulldogs (10-1, 6-1) as he scored a career-high 31 points to go along with 12 rebounds, two assists and two steals.
“It was back-and-forth the entire game,” said Fanelly, who scored 17 points in the third quarter. “A couple of turnovers we shouldn’t have had maybe swung it one way or another. We just gotta take care of the ball next time.”
Green, which missed a desperation 3-pointer from near half-court as time expired, committed 24 turnovers and forced 14. Nordonia made 11 3-pointers to five for Green.
“I thought it was a great win for us, No. 1, because our 20-point and 15-rebound a night guy didn’t play well tonight,” Nordonia coach Matt Cash said in reference to 6-6 senior center Chris Scott, who finished with eight points, four rebounds and four blocks.
“He didn’t really score and we took him out for long stretches of the game, but our team just fought and fought, and we won despite that fact. We had [senior] Dameon Luster step up tonight. Pio is Pio. He is a senior captain for a reason and a three-year letter winner, and then we had other contributors. [Senior] Eugene Coleman has been playing great lately. [Sophomore] Max Hartman, [junior] Eli Linder and [sophomore] Alex Alders are great athletes.”
Green led 19-17 after one quarter and 59-58 following three. Nordonia led 40-39 at halftime.
Piotrowski, a key reserve on Nordonia’s team last season that won the Suburban League title with a 14-0 mark, made seven 3-pointers Friday. He scored 10 points in the fourth quarter.
“I warmed up an extra hour early today and got some shots up in the gym and this was the best shooting performance of my career,” Piotrowski said. “As soon as a couple dropped, I just kept shooting. It just felt great.”
Luster scored 11 points for Nordonia and Coleman added 10 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. Linder contributed five points and six assists.
“I give credit to Nordonia. They played great,” Green coach Mark Kinsley said. “Piotrowski, I told him after the game that is the best performance I have seen an opposing player have in our gym in 15 years. I can’t ever remember [another performance like that] and we have had some good players come in and play. That is at the top of the list. That is just outstanding. We were trying to chase him and do whatever we can. If he got an opening, it was going in. That was impressive.”
Green 6-8 senior Josh Pritchard totaled 14 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. Sophomore Austin Marciniak also scored 14 points and had four steals, and senior Eddie Janini had six points and five rebounds.
“It was a great win for us tonight,” Cash said. “Plus now they have to come to our place the second time around [Feb. 22] if we can handle our business and hold serve and remain undefeated in the league.”
Nordonia has won three out of its past four games, and finishes a five-game, eight-day stretch against visiting Aurora tonight.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.