Article: Padua drops another tough one in NCL play, 45-43 to Walsh Jesuit
It was deja vu times two inside Padua Gymnasium on Friday night.
The Bruins Boys Hoops squad dropped a tight-knit 45-43 decision to the Warriors of Walsh Jesuit after holding a lead until late in the fourth quarter.
The loss looked reminiscent of the team's gut-wrenching 51-49 loss at Archbishop Hoban last Friday night, which was another true battle of North Coast League teams. The game nearly mimicked the Padua Girls Basketball game played on the same court Wednesday night, in which the Lady Bruins led Chagrin Falls until late in the 3rd Quarter before falling behind and losing 38-33.
"I told them again, I don't think I prepared them well enough," said Bruins Head Coach Jake Lantz. "Here again, we lose by two points. Lose by less than five, that's on me. We're right there, we just have to learn to close games out and win."
Walsh, now 4-0 on the year, trailed 37-34 at halftime before storming back in the second half. A 7-0 run to end the 3rd Quarter, coupled with a 9-2 run to begin the 4th Quarter helped them take a 43-39 lead with 2:05 remaining, their first lead coming with 4:18 on the clock.
The Bruins were held scoreless for a huge portion of that run that encompassed nearly ten minutes. Senior Point Guard Matt Milliken only player a couple minutes in the second half due to an injury and Senior Forward Chris Link's time was limited due to foul trouble.
"Losing Matt hurt without a doubt," said Lantz. "We missed some shots in that span, but they weren't really good shots. We were forcing stuff up from the perimeter.
"The mentality was to get the ball inside a little bit. I wanted to hopefully alleviate some of the pressure that was going to be put on [Senior Guard] Ty [Ptacek], using the high post and try to enter the offense that way."
Missed free throws by the Warriors kept Padua in it, as a basket by Senior Mark Huml cut the lead to 43-41 with 22.8 seconds left. Two free throws by Walsh Senior David Croft increased the lead to 45-41, but the Bruins answered with a lay-in by Senior Joe Leary. The Warriors were able to kill the final five seconds for the 45-43 triumph.
"I told the guys, we are getting better," said Lantz, in his first year leading the Bruins. "It may not show in the wins and losses right now, but we are getting better. We're getting better as individuals and as a team.
"John [Norris] is a good coach at Walsh. He does a nice job with those guys. We knew we were going to have our hands full. We're a pretty good team though too."
Padua had hopped out to an early 14-2 lead in the 1st, forcing a Walsh timeout with 3:20 in the quarter. Much of that was by the scoring of Senior Tyler Ptacek, who netted eleven of his twenty points in the first quarter. The Bruins led, 16-7 after one and 27-20 at the half.
"We were ready to play," said Lantz, whose team was coming off an 87-63 loss at Gilmour on Tuesday. "After the Gilmour game, we came back and talked about our mental preparation coming into this game. Being ready to play, bringing it physically and bringing it mentally. I'm proud of the way the guys came out."
Walsh Jesuit was led by Croft and Senior Mark Mittiga, who each tallied nine points. Mittiga had all of his in the first half, while Croft had seven of his nine in the fourth.
Ptacek was the high scorer with twenty points, while Bruin Junior Tim King added seven points and Link had six points with five rebounds.
The loss is Padua's third straight, as they fall to 1-3 overall and 0-2 in the highly competitive North Coast League. Next up is a home contest against neighborhood rival Parma next Friday December 21st. Tip-off at 7:30pm.