Blue Devils hot shooting propels them to win over Trojans

BERLIN CENTER, Ohio (WYTV) – The Western Reserve Blue Devils can definitely shoot the ball. They came out firing away on homecoming night as they knocked off the Sebring Trojans 72-61.

Despite leading by as much as 21 points, the Trojans made a ferocious fourth quarter charge to cut the Devils lead down to just 8-points with three and half minutes remaining in the contest. It was the Devils solid free throw shooting the last three minutes that finally sealed the game. They would connect on 11 of 14 shots from the charity line in the final frame.

“That’s one thing that we have stressed, and where we have really grown in shooting the ball from the free throw line,” Devils coach Pat Daltorio remarked. “There is a reason we work on them. The kids have really stepped up in that role and have done a nice job after a slow start earlier in the year.”

“My kids are no quit,” Trojans coach Josh Scott said. “I’m very proud of them to come and make it a game and give us a chance to win. When we were down by eight with a little over two minutes to go we really felt like we had an opportunity to win the game.”

But it looked like the game would be a blowout early on as the Devils jumped out to a 21-12 lead six minutes into the contest and led 21-16 at the end of the first quarter.

They then exploded in the second quarter with a 12-1 run, and a 33-17 lead less than three minutes into the stanza. The Devils would build their advantage to a game-high 21 points at 43-22 late in the second quarter and hold a 17-point, 45-28 lead at intermission.

“Kade (Hillis) shot the ball really well in the first half and Jack (Cappabianca) did a nice job inside,” Daltorio explained how the Devils built their lead. “When Kade shoots the ball like that he’s really tough to guard because of his size, length, and ability to get to the basket as well.”

Kade Hillis would score 14 of his game-high 25 points in the first half, including 5 baskets from behind the arc. He would also grab 8 rebounds. Cappabianca would score 18 points while leading the Devils on the boards with 10 caroms. Cole Dezee would also hit double digits as he scored 13 points for the Devils.

“My team was penetrating so they were giving me open shots,” Hillis remarked. “Jack is an animal. No one can out jump him in the league. He’s one of the strongest kids and he works at it every day.”

“They shot the ball well,” Scott conceded. “They did a really good job of connecting on their shots and hitting the shots that were open. We knew they were going to get us inside some, that’s just going to happen, but what we couldn’t have happen was to let their shooters get hot. That’s the extra element that they can bring this year that makes them really good.”

The Devils would again pull out to a 21-point advantage early in the second half at 49-28, and again late in the third period at 55-34. They would hold an 18-point cushion at the end of the third at 59-41.

But starting in the fourth frame the Trojans started to battle back as they went on a 12-3 run, pulling to withing 9-points at the 2:49 mark of the quarter when Jason Dickson hit a basket. Following a technical foul on the Trojans Joey Clark for protesting a foul, the Devils built their lead back to 12-points with only 2:30 remaining. But the Trojans would cut the deficit back down to 8-points at the 1:40 mark before the Devils were able to seal the game from the free throw line.

“We have a little history with these guys,” Daltorio admitted. “We talked a lot about it this week. Just understanding that every game you just have to come out, compete and be ready for whatever is thrown at you. These guys last year got us three times.”

“It was actually here where we were up by 17 going into the fourth and they came back and they took care of business,” Daltorio talked about a heartbreaking loss last year against Sebring. “Hopefully it wasn’t in the back of their minds but maybe a little bit there when they made that run. But our kids stuck together did a really good job and finished the deal.”

“Different year, different team,” Scott said. “But we talked about it before the game, Patsy and I did. It’s something he hasn’t forgotten about, I kind of did. I just worry about now, but as we were going I certainly felt the momentum and it felt like we had an opportunity.”

Colin Baia led the Trojans with 19 points on the night while Brandon Dare came off the bench to net 15. Jarod Hunter would lead them with 10 rebounds while Robbie Rouse hauled down 5 caroms.

The Devils who improve to 14-3 on the year, 6-1 in the ITCL’s Blue Tier and will travel to Mineral Ridge on Tuesday night. The Trojans who now drop to 9-9, 3-4 in the league will host Lowellville on Tuesday.

Instead of a boys jayvee game, the girl’s varsity teams squared off with the Blue Devils also winning that contest. The Devils won by a 68-28 margin with Alexis Hughes pacing the Devils with a game-high 15 points.