Brooke Crushes Ripley

Fast start lifts Bruins over Vikings, 51-25

Photo by Joe Catullo Brooke’s Garrett Pauls looks to avoid a Ripley defender during Tuesday’s game.

WELLSBURG — One of the things Brooke boys basketball coach Cam Koehler has been working with his Bruins to overcome are slow starts.

Mission accomplished, at least for one night.

The Bruins held visiting Ripley to one point in the first quarter and only eight at halftime, while scoring from both inside and outside in a lopsided 51-25 victory Tuesday night inside the Brooke Wellness Center.

The Vikings (1-7) were about as cold shooting as the weather outside, cashing a lone foul shot in the first quarter and seven more points in the second. They did a little better in the second half, but with a couple of sophomores and a junior in the starting lineup, it was obvious Ripley is in a rebuilding mode.

“They’re down a little bit this year,” said Koehler, whose club now is 4-5. “I’ve known Ripley since I played, and they have had some good players come through the program. They are a lot like us; they have years when they’re up and years when they’re down. Right now they are in a rebuilding mode kind of like we were last year.”

Koehler’s club used a balance attack as nine players got into the scoring column and only one, Justin Pennybacker, reached double figures. Pennybacker, a 5-11 senior, drained three from behind the arc and ended with a game-high 13 points.

“Most of our season, we really haven’t had to rely on one guy.” Koehler said. “We’re still looking for that one guy, but every night it has been somebody different with the hot hand. It’s a good thing and a bad thing sometimes because, sometimes, you really need that go-to guy, but we just have to show up and see who’s hot that night and go from there.

“That’s the kind of team we have. Most of the guys are senior-experienced, so they know what they have to do. Tonight, Ripley had a lot of sophomores, so you could see the physical strength difference with our seniors. We really took advantage of our strength inside.”

The Bruins out-rebounded the Vikings, 34-25, and had 15 offensive rebounds to just three for Ripley.

“Something we really harped on with the guys is starting off the game strong and also the second half. We want to put a complete game together,” Koehler said. “That’s something we haven’t done a whole lot of. We’re trying to find some way to boost momentum the rest of the season. We want to build on that from this game into the next and into the next and so on.

“We have a tough stretch coming up where we have Wheeling Park, Morgantown, University, Big Red. That’s some tough teams down the line where we have something positive going into those games and something to build on.”

Pennybacker came off the bench late in the first quarter and drained a three at the buzzer to give his Bruins a 12-1 first period advantage. Then, Pennybacker knocked down another three and scored a layup off a nice feed from fellow senior Evan Cuomo. He finished the first half with 10 of his 13 points.

“Penny has struggled shooting the ball a little bit this year, but tonight he really came out shooting the ball,” Koehler said. “He’s been shooting with a little more confidence lately. With him, 3-point shooting is his game, and when he’s feeling it his game is elevated to the next level. It boosts his confidence and his moral for the rest of the season.

“When he starts knocking down shots he moves well on defense and starts jumping into the passing lane. And that’s with any player. When you start knocking shots down, you’re confidence level goes up and everything is boosted.”

Cuomo got the Bruins off to a fast start, coming out of the break scoring with a short jumper and draining a 3 and backing up Pennybacker with seven points. Perhaps more importantly, the 6-3 senior had four blocked shots, a couple of steals and five rebounds.

Junior Isaiah Riffe scored 12 points to lead Ripley, which had only four players score in the game. The Vikings’ 6-5 sophomore center, Ty Johnson, led all rebounders with 10.

Game notes:

Ø Ripley won the preliminary game, 48-35, with Jacob Fouty scoring 16 points. Alec Lilly tallied 11 for the Bruin Jayvees.

Ø Brooke athletic director Sean Blumette presented Cuomo with a plaque before the game, designating him as a member of the Brooke Holiday Tournament all-tourney team.