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Sports

Wadsworth rolls over Akron North in sectional opener

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    Wadsworth's Beau Casey scores against North's Rashod Robinson, left, and Justyce Price during the first quarter.

    RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE

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    Wadsworth's Mitchell Blackburn goes up for a shot against North's Marcus Jackson during the second quarter.

    RON SCHWANE / GAZETTE

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WADSWORTH — Akron North caused quite a commotion among boys basketball coaches at the Copley Division I District meeting Feb. 12 by voting Wadsworth as the 12th and final seed. The Grizzlies weren’t lonely, as the Vikings tabbed Suburban League National Conference champion Stow 11th.

Was there extra motivation among the Wadsworth players Wednesday for a sectional semifinal against the team that ended up as the actual 12th seed?

“They can vote for whoever they want,” Grizzlies backup guard Mitchell Blackburn said. “I don’t really care what place we were put in. I just wanted to play a game.”

“We were a little motivated, but we usually come into every game motivated,” starting shooting guard Jake Justice added.

Justice and Blackburn downplayed the controversy, but the fifth-seeded Grizzlies’ play spoke volumes in a 76-28 victory that took a mere 1 hour, 12 minutes to complete and featured coach Mike Schmeltzer Jr. going deep into his bench well before halftime.

Wadsworth (17-6) advanced to play at No. 3 Brunswick (15-7) on Saturday in the first meeting between the Medina County schools in 10 years. The Vikings wrapped up 1-22.

Three historic things happened for the Grizzlies, who recorded 17 wins for first time since 2003-04 and notched the eighth-largest margin of victory (48 points) in school history. The last time Wadsworth allowed fewer points was Nov. 25, 1987, when Medina was held to 26.

The Grizzlies were on pace for 116 points after the first quarter, too, but Schmeltzer went 10 players deep by the 6:13 mark of the second and ended the half with backups Blackburn, Lucas Mills, David Griffin, Carson Risher and David Hardy on the floor.

“We played very well and got open looks and knocked them down,” Justice said. “We pressed well, and our defense led to our offense.”

Justice led Wadsworth with a game-high 19 points after hitting five 3-pointers and a pair of twos without a miss before finally failing to connect in the third quarter. Tony Hewitt was outstanding in his return from a two-game suspension, scoring all 13 of his points in the initial 10:15.

Point guard Christian Szalay took one official shot — he was fouled on two others — while racking up three rebounds, four assists, five steals and an emphatic block of freshman guard Khail Torres, and Blackburn made an impact with five points, three boards and two assists.

The fourth quarter also was memorable, as the Grizzlies debuted an offense built around feeding the 6-foot-5 Griffin in the post. The team’s lone senior responded with eight points and a game-high 10 rebounds and received a standing ovation from a few fans upon exiting in the final minute.

“It was good just to get us on the court and get a feel for what it’s like in a playoff game,” Justice said.

North received a meager seven points on 2-for-30 shooting from its starters, three of whom were benched 1:31 into the game after Wadsworth went up 8-0. The Vikings, whose lone win came at home and in overtime Jan. 18 against Field, didn’t commit a ton of turnovers (19) but took a boatload of contested shots.

The school that won the 1935 and ’39 Class A state championships made 11-of-60 field goals (.183), 2-of-17 3-pointers (.118) and 4-of-8 free throws. Sixth man Rashod Robinson and 11th man Andrew Yeager tied for the team lead with six points apiece.

“We played well given the competition we had,” Blackburn said. “Right now we just needed a game in before we played Brunswick.”

Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.

Wadsworth 76, North 28

Copley Division I Sectional Semifinal

NORTH 4 6 9 9 — 28

WADSWORTH 29 14 16 17 — 76

North — Tyrell Salters 1-8 1-2 4, Marcus Jackson 1-5 0-0 3, Justyce Price 0-3 0-0 0, Khalil Torres 0-10 0-0 0, Tyrell Vickers 0-4 0-0 0, Rashod Robinson 2-6 2-4 6, Markus Hale 2-13 1-2 5, Javon Banks 1-4 0-0 2, Michaud Crawford 0-0 0-0 0, Helton Culver 0-0 0-0 0, Andrew Yeager 3-5 0-0 6, Okinyao Anderson 0-1 0-0 0, Tyler Santacruse 0-0 0-0 0, Treyon Lynum 1-1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 11-60 4-8 28.

Wadsworth — Tony Hewitt 5-8 1-2 13, Beau Casey 2-3 2-2 6, Reid Black 2-5 0-0 4, Jake Justice 7-8 0-0 19, Christian Szalay 0-1 2-4 2, Jack Simmons 3-10 0-0 6, David Hardy 2-4 0-0 5, Mitchell Blackburn 1-3 2-4 5, Carson Risher 1-2 0-0 2, David Griffin 2-9 3-5 8, Lucas Mills 1-4 0-0 2, Brendan Merhar 1-3 2-2 4, Brock Snowball 0-0 0-0 0, T.J. Lockwood 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS: 27-61 12-19 76.

3-point goals — North 2-17 (Jackson 1-3, Salters 1-5, Vickers 0-2, Hale 0-3, Torres 0-4), Wadsworth 10-24 (Justice 5-6, Hewitt 2-5, Hardy 1-2, Griffin 1-3, Blackburn 1-3, Szalay 0-1, Mills 0-1, Merhar 0-1, Simmons 0-2). Rebounds — North 33 (Hale 9), Wadsworth 45 (Griffin 10). Assists — North 4 (Culver, Hale, Anderson, Robinson), Wadsworth 17 (Szalay 4). Turnovers — North 19 (Jackson 5), Wadsworth 11 (Szalay 3). Fouls — North 15, Wadsworth 10. Fouled out — None. Records — North (1-22), Wadsworth (17-6).

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