“I think they’re a real good team. They’re missing one of their best players (in Angelo Frias) and I thought we’d have our hands full — and we did,” Western coach Chris Sheldon said.
“The biggest thing was we didn’t panic,” he added. “We just kept plugging away and really made some big plays with the game on the line in the fourth quarter to secure (the lead), get a lead and bring it home.”
Senior Tyler Bartlett had the hot hand early for the ’Riders, connecting on all three of his three-point shot attempts in the first quarter. He accounted for nine of Western’s first 14 points in the period; the ’Riders ended the stanza with a 17-9 lead.
Bartlett finished the night with 16 points. He also grabbed three rebounds.
Western took a 28-27 lead into halftime.
Senior Colton Puder had a double-double, grabbing 11 rebounds to go with 10 points. He was perfect from the free-throw line, hitting all four shots.
Also in double digits for Western was sophomore Jaret Griffith, who scored 11 points and pulled down eight rebounds. He also dished out four assists.
Margaretta coach Steve Keller said keeping Griffith contained was a focal point.
“Griffith is an excellent player. I think we did a nice job on him,” Keller said. “(Bailey) Kimberlin guarded him all night.”
Western senior Cody Palmer and sophomore Aiden Markley each scored nine points. All three of Markley’s shots came from three-point land.
While Sheldon saw the ’Riders squad play inconsistently at times and “force the issue too much,” he was pleased with the team effort and seeing players make in-game adjustments.
“Guys wants to get out there and really get going. We had that look about us tonight,” he said.
“Tyler got going early. He came in and made some big shots. Luke (Buck) had a couple offensive rebounds for us. In the second half, Cody stepped up and played well. Dale (Smith) made some really good plays off the dribble. Jaret made some shots that were well needed and Colton obviously stepped up and did some really nice things in the second half,” Sheldon said.
Sophomore Nick Leibacher led Margaretta’s scoring attack with 16 points. He also pulled down six rebounds and handed out two assists.
Junior Logan Graffin added 13 points. He grabbed nine rebounds and a steal and dished out one assist.
While Keller said having Western hit 12-of-22 from the three-point line hurt, he said he believes “when we get everybody back, we’ll be alright” and he was pleased with Friday’s performance from the rest of the Polar Bears.
“I think there are some things we can shore up and correct,” added Keller, who expects Frias to return to the lineup soon. “They’re going to be a good team.”
The Western jayvee squad made it a sweep Friday with a 47-41 win. Three ’Riders hit double figures; freshman Kyler Lacy led the way with 14 points while junior Pierce Livermore added 11 and freshman JJ Weisenberger 10.
Margaretta junior Isaac Fenwick led his team with 13 points and sophomore James Weaver added 10.
The Polar Bears host Monroeville in a non-conference game Dec. 10. Western plays Firelands today in another non-league match at home.
Follow Reflector staff writer Cary Ashby on Twitter at @Cary_reporter and on Facebook at "Cary Ashby — reporter & comic book blogger."
Margaretta 9 18 16 8 — 51
Western Reserve 17 11 16 19 — 63
Margaretta: Bailey Kimberlin 4-0-8, Dylan Moriis 3-0-9, Nick Leibacher 7-2-16, Noah Hilton 0-5-5, Logan Graffin 4-3-13 — 18-10-51
Western: Luke Buck 2-0-2, Dale Smith 1-3-6, Jaret Griffith 4-2-11, Cody Palmer 3-1-9, Aiden Markley 3-0-9, Tyler Bartlett 4-4-16, Colton Puder 3-4-10 — 19-14-63