By Matt Lofgren | Correspondent
Falling into 20-10 hole to start the game, Mogadore overcame three quarters of subpar play to grab a fourth-quarter lead and earn a tough 66-57 Portage Trail Conference cross-division win at Field High School on Tuesday night.
Separated by less than five miles from one another, and holding a well-know rivalry that dates back decades, the final score in this one didn't indicate how close the score should have been.
"I went to Mogadore so I told these guys all the time, I was on the other side of the rivalry and now I'm on this side," Field head coach Jon Lane said. "To me, it feels just as intense being on both sides because there's so much history between the two schools. We don't play each other in football anymore, so that kind of took a little bit off of it, but the kids still get up for it."
At the start of the fourth quarter, both teams were knotted up at 37, with both crowds practically rocking the gym back and forth. Out of the short break, Mogadore came out on a 9-4 run in just over two minutes to put the Falcons out of their comfort zone.
"We rebounded the ball, forced missed shots and created turnovers, and that created baskets down here and we ran our offense pretty well," Mogadore head coach Russ Swartz said.
Hunter Van Camp, who scored eight of his team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter, said the team just did what they had been doing all season and played selfless basketball.
"Coach said coming out of the break that we needed to get a run going with a burst and bust this game open," Van Camp said. "So we went on a 6-0 run and took advantage of the game to get the win."
Switching to the zone in the second half was a big part of the Wildcats' victory, according to Swartz. In the third quarter, Mogadore switched to the zone in an effort to challenge the Falcons more under the net.
"You know what, I thought we played a lot better, even in the second quarter, we held them down," Swartz said. "First quarter, our defense was really bad and they did a good job of taking advantage of that; making shots. Second quarter, our man defense was a little better, then we went to the zone in the second half and it was totally different. We played really well."
Lane was especially observant of the defensive shift and watched as his team struggle to come up with answers.
"Give credit to coach Swartz, he switched up the defense there and our guys just never seemed to respond to that," Lane said. "It frustrated our guys a little bit. Ball movement stopped and that just kind of took us out of our gameplan and it was an effective defense in the second half."
Falling a game short of the County Division title last Friday to Windham, Swartz said he was proud of his players that came out and played tough after a disappointing loss.
"When you lose a tough one like for the league title like we did last Friday, you never know how your kids are going to bounce back," Swartz said. "Basketball is such a grind of a season that you can't get too high, can't get too low for any win or any loss and we did a good job of fighting through it in the first half and having some good energy in the second half."