WADSWORTH: Firestone boys basketball coach Dave Milo is pretty honest and up front when talking about senior forwards Kevin Gladney and Jerome Lane.
“I have two of the best players in Northeast Ohio and I am going to ride them because when you have good talent, that makes you a better coach,” Milo said with a laugh.
Gladney and Lane lived up to Milo’s expectations by leading Firestone to a 76-72 victory over Wadsworth in the Grizzlies’ inaugural boys basketball game in the new “Main Gym” within the new high school.
Gladney and Lane combined for 51 points, 18 rebounds, six steals, five blocks and three assists.
“That is what I expect from them,” Milo said. “I knew they had big games going, but I had no idea that they had that many points. I know they can score when they have the ball in their hands. I am more concerned with the defense and I am really happy with their defense right now.”
Gladney scored a game-high 26 points and had seven rebounds, three assists and one steal. Lane scored 25 points and had game highs in rebounds (11), blocks (five) and steals (five).
“It was a fast-paced game, that’s for sure,” Wadsworth coach Mike Schmeltzer said. “The bottom line is they’ve got two great athletes who kind of took over at the end of the game. We still had a chance to win, and being as young as we are, a lot of those guys that were out there on the floor had never been in that situation before. It is a learning process for us. There are not too many bad things I will come away from that game with as a coach. I thought we played in stretches as good as we can play. We just have to clean up some of the other things and we will be fine.”
The Grizzles led 19-15 after one quarter.
“We really came out sluggish, but a lot of that was their defense and their game,” Milo said. “That whole first half we played their game and that is not the game we want to play. They are a really good ballclub. It was scary at times. We have a lot of athletes, but we ended up playing their game. I didn’t want to go that way. We want to get the ball out and run, and at times they didn’t let us.”
The Falcons rallied and led 41-35 at halftime with Gladney and Lane combining to score 19 points in the second quarter, but the Grizzlies responded with a 16-0 run during the third quarter. They held a 62-59 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
Gladney and Lane guided the Falcons with 10 of the team’s 17 points in the fourth.
“We came out and the crowd was hyped,” Lane said. “It was a real crazy atmosphere and we came back from a deficit. We came out ready to play hard after being in the locker room and came together as a family, knocking down free throws.”
Gladney stole a Grizzlies pass and passed ahead to Lane, who finished with a two-hand slam dunk to give the Falcons a 3-point lead with 31 seconds to go.
“J.T. [Lane] and I preach family,” Gladney said. “We are the two captains. I got that steal, passed the ball to him for an assist and he dunked it.”
Sophomore guard Reggie Rogers and senior guard Chaz Brantley each scored nine points for Firestone, and junior forward Evan Kennerly scored four points.
Sophomore guard Austin White paced Wadsworth with 13 points, and junior guard Barry Fernholz scored 12 points. Senior forward Nathan Pound had 10 points and 11 rebounds, and junior forward Kyle Prunty scored 10 points.
“Kyle and Nate inside, they had their hands full with J.T.,” Schmeltzer said.
“Anybody would have their hands full with him. I thought they did a great job just pushing back and trying their best to body him up and rebound the ball. Barry gave us a great spark off the bench and Austin playing his first varsity game as a sophomore looked pretty good.”
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.