By RICH KELLY
For the Star Beacon
When John Adams ventured out to Conneaut Thursday night to battle the Conneaut Spartans, flashes of their athleticism showed early, but evidently the Spartans had no clue that they weren’t expected to be in the game.
After a Bud Ritari putback and free throw narrowed the gap to 16-15 in favor of the Rebels with 7:16 left in the second period, you could almost see the Rebels intensity level ignite the offense. They used a 9-0 run and then an 8-0 run in that quarter to open a big lead as Adams ran away for a 82-57 non-conference victory over the Spartans.
“I thought we did a nice job against their press,” Conneaut coach Tim Tallbacka said. “We just had a terrible second quarter. There were way too many fundamental breakdowns. We feel we’re a good team, so that is unacceptable for this time of season. Turning the ball over 24 times hurt a lot, too.”
Those turnovers, indeed, hurt the Spartans. They just didn’t have the athleticism to match the Rebels, but they never were short of effort.
Both teams hit better than half of their shots for the contest. Conneaut went 24 of 47 for 51.1 percent, and never slowed up in attacking the heart of the Rebel defense. Being a tad slower, the Spartans (0-5) just didn’t get enough open looks when they were there, and half a dozen missed layups also didn’t help the cause.
Adams (6-3) also got good shots close to the hoop, and their quickness paid off as they hit 32 of 62 shots for 51.6 percent.
“We’re a young team that is coming into our own,” John Adams coach LaVonne Davis said. “We were waiting for openings to get going as the game went on. Credit Conneaut for playing hard all the way. Our team is solid. Our losses were to St. Edward, East Tech and Glenville, so we feel we can play with the really good teams.
“We like to apply pressure on defense, and if a team doesn’t practice against a fast team much, it’s tough for them to keep up with us. Once our defense gets going, we also want to run as much as we can.”
The Rebels did run, and very well, making most of their shots from close range. On occasion, though, when the Spartans packed it in on the inside, Adams did not hesitate to take the outside shots. Eight of them went in, so Conneaut had to pick its poison, very unwillingly.
Devan Robinson led the way by dominating with his quickness from the onset of the game for 21 points and nine rebounds. Archie Patrick fired home 17 points, including 13 in those second period runs, and Trevon Rutledge added 14 as 12 of their 13 players in the scorebook with points.
Never relenting, Conneaut had nine players score of the dozen that played.
Nick Blood led the way with 12 points, Michael Mirando and Dylan Campbell each added nine, and Ritari had his eight.
“I told the kids before the game,” Tallbacka said, “that it would take 15 or fewer turnovers for us to stay in the game. We tried hard, but against a team as athletic as John Adams, they can be gone in a hurry, and those runs in the second quarter proved that point.”
Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.