Four Western Reserve players hit seven 3-pointers in the first quarter on the way to a 59-45 Firelands Conference win over the visiting St. Paul Flyers (9-8, 6-6).
“It’s just a tremendous win — and one we needed, coming off a tough loss last Saturday night (at Crestivew),” said Western coach Chris Sheldon, whose team improved to 12-5 overall and 10-2 in the FC. “Obviously, I’m very happy with the way we started and finished.”
The ’Riders led 14-4 with 3:21 left in the first quarter. Two players had swished in four 3-pointers at that point — two each from junior Aiden Markley and senior Pierce Livermore.
“Tonight Pierce was tremendous. He gave us a huge boost. In the second half, Gavin Braden and JJ (Weisenberger) — two role players off the bench — gave us some really good minutes as well,” Sheldon said.
Livermore led the Western scoring attack with 18 points. He also had three rebounds and a steal.
Junior Brayden Hood nearly had a double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing nine rebounds.
Braden, coming off the bench in the second half, pulled down eight rebounds. Senior Dale Smith added seven boards and six assists.
Western ended the first quarter up 24-8. Four players hit seven three-pointers in the quarter.
“(When) you go 9-of-15 from the floor — and five or six of those were threes, that’s a heckuva start. We really got off to a great start,” Sheldon said. “I thought after that we started to get careless with the ball — just too many turnovers tonight. That allowed them to get back in the game a little bit.”
St. Paul outscored Western 16-8 in the second quarter, but went into halftime down 32-24.
“Obviously they had a great first quarter and they were on fire. They hit those seven three’s and dug us a hole,” St. Paul coach Mike Smith said. “Really the game was lost in the first quarter because of their shooting. It just seemed like they couldn’t miss.
“I thought we were good enough defensively in the second quarter,” he added. “I thought we pressured the ball and did a lot of a good things, but that big, opening first quarter really put us where we had to play perfect; that’s hard to do.”
The scoring margin was tight in the third quarter. Western had the 14-12 edge and led 46-36 going into the final quarter.
“When they were up (by) eight to 10 (points), they were able to spread the floor and make us pay because of that,” Smith said. “I give my kids a lot of credit to fight back. We had it down to five a few times. They did answer, but we spent a lot of time playing catch-up and trying to get back in it.”
Western scored 13 in the final quarter compared to nine for St. Paul.
“They came back at us, which was a sign of what we knew they could do. Our kids did a great job of spreading the floor and then just attacking them. We weren’t settling for three’s as we were there in the first quarter (or so),” Sheldon said. “When we share the basketball and really set each other up, you know, that’s when we play extremely well and we’re hard to guard.”
Four jayvee players hit double digits in the 49-41 Western win.
Weisenberger led the ’Riders with 13 points. Junior Riley Suhr scored 12 and freshman Luke Wyers added 10.
St. Paul junior Justin Hammersmith scored 14 points.
Western again plays an FC opponent next Friday — and it’s a big one.
“We play for the league title next Friday night here vs. South Central,” Sheldon said.
St. Paul plays a non-conference game at St. Mary Central Catholic tonight.
“We gotta learn from it (this loss) and get back after it. Nothing better than a win (tonight),” Smith said.
Follow Reflector staff writer Cary Ashby on Twitter at @Cary_reporter and on Facebook at “Cary Ashby — reporter & comic book blogger.”