By John Bombatch
JAMESTOWN — Twenty seven.
Not 26 or 25. London Madison Plains coach Joe B. Stewart gave his Eagles players a goal of somehow getting the undefeated Greeneview Rams to cough up 27 turnovers in Friday’s game at Greeneview High.
“Every player in this locker room would tell you that, going into this game, we just felt we had to shake 27 turnovers out of them,” Stewart said.
According to the Greeneview stat book, the Rams (4-1, 1-1 OHC) coughed the ball up exactly 27 times.
And according to the scoreboard, Greeneview lost its first game of the season, 59-50.
“Twenty feet and in, when they have the chance to set their feet and go to their strengths, it’s why Greeneview has a good basketball team. We felt like we had to fight for every inch, to keep the ball from getting into the positions where they can do the things that they’re very good at,” Stewart explained.
Whether it was a hand tipping most of the Rams passes, or a green-shirted Eagles player stepping into the passing lanes to throw off Greeneview’s rhythm, nothing seemed to come easy for the Rams on offense.
“Their defense really set the tone tonight,” Rams coach Kyle Fulk said. “You’re not going to win very many games when you turn the ball over 27 times. Even when we didn’t turn the ball over, they still dictated the pace, and we were sped up, and we couldn’t execute. We’ve gotta figure out how to handle that, moving forward.
“Just gotta fix it and play better.”
The Ohio Heritage Conference battle was all even at 42-42 with 4:24 left to play, when Greeneview’s Ethan Bradds faked his defender into the air. Bradds stepped into the defender and made a shooting move, but was whistled for travelling on the play.
Right after that turnover, Madison Plains (2-2, 1-1 OHC) went on a 12-2 scoring run to grab a 54-44 lead with 46 seconds left to play.
An old-fashioned three-point play by Mason Schneider and a behind-the-arc 3-pointer from Bradds pulled the Rams within six points at 56-50, but the Eagles hit three of their final four free throws to seal the win.
Bradds scored 15 of his game-high 23 points in the second half, and Schneider was next with a 19-point game.
“(Bradds and Schneider) are our two scoring leaders and they did a nice job, for the most part,” Fulk said. “I thought everybody played hard tonight for us. Mentally, we just made too many mistakes. We’ll learn from this and move on.”
Anthony Tesi led the Eagles with a 15-point night, Cameron Near finished with 14 and Spencer Ruzicka scored 11.
Greeneview is scheduled to play at New Madison Tri-Village at 7:30 p.m today, Saturday, Dec. 17.
Madison Plains heads to Cleveland to play at the Q Arena, home of the Cleveland Cavaliers for their next game on Dec. 23 against Fredericktown.