By the third time Western Reserve guard Luke Rowlinson drilled a long 3-pointer in the first quarter of Thursday’s Firelands Conference game vs. New London, he was getting warmed up. After that, the gym expected him to drain one every time that he touched the ball.
When the final seconds ticked away, Rowlinson had finished with six 3-pointers and a game-high 25 points to pace the Roughriders to a 78-57 rout over the Wildcats to continue their unbeaten FC streak. Western improved to 9-4 overall and 8-0 in the league — and is alone in first place with six conference games remaining, starting with Saturday’s scheduled trip to Mapleton.
Meanwhile, New London saw its five-game win streak snapped in falling to 7-5 overall (4-4 FC).
Western Reserve made 16 from long distance as a team, and pounced on the Wildcats in jumping out to 42-18 halftime lead.
“We got off to a real slow start,” New London coach Tom Howell said. “We didn’t do anything we wanted to do, and we didn’t do anything that I thought we could do. I give them credit, we knew they could shoot it, but man — did they shoot it against us tonight.”
The Roughriders snapped the ball around the perimeter on offense and was able to find open looks throughout the game. The offensive execution seemed to energize the Western Reserve defense as they suffocated the Wildcats on offense, particularly in the first half.
“We did a good job of moving the ball around and finding the open man, and when you shoot the ball like that, you are going to be tough to beat.” Western Reserve coach Chris Sheldon said. “I thought the key was not just making them, but I thought the ball movement in the first half and our ability to get the ball going down hill really opened up a lot of things for us.
“When you are shooting the ball like that it does two things for you,” he added. “For one, it starts to get into a high-scoring affair and that other team is not scoring. And the second part is that it really puts doubt in the opponents’ mind — and that makes playing defense easier. It is more fun playing defense, and I thought we really executed on the defensive side of the ball as well as on offense.”
John Skrada scored 14 points and JJ Weisenberger and Aiden Markley each added 10 points to give Western Reserve a total of four players to score in double figures in the win.
“It’s hard to contain anyone on that team,” Howell said. “They can just shoot it, and we didn’t do a very good job and I am not going to act like we did. But sometimes life hands you a difficult situation and you have to deal with it, move on and try to get better the next day.
“In the second half we played a lot better and were making some runs,” he added. “We cut it down to 14 points there in the second half I think like three times. Every time they would make a couple of threes to kill the run. And that’s the danger when you play a Western Reserve — because that is what they do.”
Ashton Carruthers led New London with 17 points, while Karson Howell scored 15 — all of which came in the second half. Ben Crenshaw tossed in another 10 points to give the Wildcats three players in double digit scoring.
New London is scheduled to visit South Central (10-3, 7-1) on Saturday.
NEW LONDON (7-5, 4-4)
Colin Cole ; Ben Crawshaw 5-1—10; Ashton Carruthers 6-4—17; Jacob Allen 1-0—3; Jaden Keys 2-1—5; Jaylin Moffit 3-0—7; Karson Howell 5-3—15. TOTALS 20-9—57.
WESTERN RESERVE (9-4, 8-0)
Cory Hipp 0-1—1; JJ Weisenberger 4-0—10; John Skrada 5-2—14; Jude Muenz 3-0—8; Aiden Markley 4-0—10; Luke Rowlinson 9-1—25; Hayden Huntington 4-0—8; Luke Wyers 1-0—2. TOTALS 30-4—78.
New London 12 6 20 19 — 57
W. Reserve 17 25 17 19 — 78
3-point FGs: (NL) Crenshaw 3, Howell 2, Carruthers, Allen Moffit; (WR) Rowlinson 6, Weisenberger 2, Skrada 2, Muenz 2, Markley 2.
JV: W. Reserve won, 45-36