WELLSBURG - Wednesday's battle between Big Red and Brooke featured a little bit of everything - scoring bursts, comebacks, a 3-point barrage, several nifty blocks, a breakaway slam, and a whole lot of Tajuan Lawson.
The Steubenville senior guard scored 14 points, dished out seven assists and recorded four steals as Mike Haney's club (6-2) earned a 65-63 victory against the Bruins (5-3).
"That was a very good win for us against a really solid, well-coached team," Haney said. "They were down in Florida, they are playing hot and it's good to beat them over here."
Brooke’s Austin Schambach dribbles as Steubenville’s John Linn (5) defends.
Once the game got rolling, the visitors sprinted to an early lead.
Thanks to their defensive pressure and sharp shooting from behind the arc, Big Red was able to outscore the Bruins 20-14 during the initial eight minutes. Of Steubenville's eight fields, four came from downtown. Lawson and Periogn West both knocked a pair of 3-pointers.
West's second trifecta put the Red ahead by nine (15-6). Dave Reitter's club, however, reeled off six straight (Hunter Wallace getting four) to pull within three. A Lawson 3 combined with Glenn Purdue's basket in the paint increased the advantage to six.
Brooke opened the second frame with a 7-0 scoring burst (Wallace getting four and Eric Johnson swishing a 3-pointer) to grab a 21-20 lead. Lawson then keyed a Big Red rally, which saw the visitors reel off 12 in a row.
He started by scoring off a nifty drive to the basket. He then swiped the inbounds pass and kissed one off glass. Following a Brooke turnover, Lawson assisted on an Adam Sterling 3-pointer. West followed with his third 3-pointer and. John Linn gave Big Red a 38-25 halftime advantage when he drained a 3-pointer off yet another Lawson dish.
In the first half, Big Red was 15 of 29 from the floor and a red-hot 7 of 10 from behind the arc.
Reitter's club came out smoking to start the third quarter. Russell Schwertfeger got the Bruins going when he drove uncontested down the lane for a pair. Wallace scored four in a row, his first hoop coming off a feed from Eric Johnson. Austin Schambach tickled the twine from behind the arc and Wallace followed with a deuce.
The 11-0 run sliced the gap to just two (38-36).
Big Red recovered on Chris Smith's conventional three-point play. Johnson tied it at 41 on a 3-pointer. Four straight points by hard-working Jesse Gambellin put Brooke on top 47-46. That set the stage for Mylik Young's slam. He went coast to coast after recording a steal. Brooke went back on top 50-48 following a Schwertfeger free throw and another Wallace basket. Brandon Herring-Hill's 3 gave the visitors a 51-50 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
"We were up at half by 13 and we talked to them about how important the first three minutes of the second half would be," Haney added. "We told them someone is going to get that run. We tried to hold them off but they cut the lead down within the first two minutes. Then we responded with a little run of our own."
The Bruins took a three-point lead early in the final frame on hoops by Ryan Heaton and Wallace. West knotted the score at 58, draining yet another three following yet another Lawson assist.
Baskets by Young and Linn put Big Red up 65-59 late in the fourth. The Bruins, however, wouldn't quit. Johnson canned a 3-pointer and Wallace nailed one from the line. Brooke rebounded a missed Big Red free throw with just a little more than 18 seconds to go.
The Bruins were able to get a good look but Big Red's Young went up and swatted away what could have been the game-tying shot.
Lawson paced the winners in scoring with 14 (he also had five rebounds). West finished with 12, Linn 11 and Sterling nine. The winners were 26 of 56 from the floor (they had 10 3-pointers) and collected 29 rebounds (Young grabbed seven).
"He was all over the floor," Haney said of Lawson's performance. "He scored, got rebounds, steals and made some nice passes. He did a good job defensively and was able to push the ball up the court. He's a senior and we expect that from our seniors. We expect them to be our leaders."
Wallace took game scoring honors with 23. Johnson added 13 and Gambellin 12, to go along with his four blocks. Brooke knocked down 25 of 53 field goal tries (four came from behind the arc) and grabbed 30 missed shots. Wallace and Schwertfeger each had six.