GUYS MILLS — A tight two quarters quickly got loosened up by Maplewood’s defense in the second half. And then the hot hands of Ryan Coblentz put it away as the Tigers opened the Region 3 boys basketball season with a 57-38 win over Linesville on Friday.

“Linesville was pretty tough,” said Coblentz, who helped the Tigers improve to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the region. “We’ve got to watch out for them the next time we play ... We could have played better in the first half. But, in the second half we played pretty well.”

Despite some less-than-stellar shooting by the Lions (2-2, 0-1 Region 3), they were able to use sheer aggression off the boards and on defense to keep the game within reach at the end of the first half, trailing 24-19.

“The first half, we missed some easy bunnies,” said Linesville coach Steve Mickle, who watched his team go 8-for-21 in the first two quarters. “And we missed some foul shots. It was a five-point game at halftime, and we make a few of those bunnies and make a few of those foul shots, you know, it could have been an even game at the half.”

In the third quarter, however, the Tigers’ zone “D” got tough. And in the face of the pressure, Linesville started throwing the ball away.

“In the second half, turnovers were a problem,” said Mickle. “And we weren’t getting open shots. I mean, Maplewood, they hustled the whole night. They were all over you. We couldn’t catch the ball, we couldn’t penetrate. And when we did penetrate we’d panic and throw the ball away ... Taking care of the ball was the big thing (Friday).”

Linesville scored one field goal in the third period, and had just four points total as Maplewood pulled out to a 38-23 lead heading into the final frame.

“In the second half we started getting the rotations on the zone a little better,” said Maplewood coach Mark McElhinny. “And we were getting better looks in the paint.”

Then Coblentz took over. He had three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, and drained back-to-back triples with around three minutes left pushing the Tigers’ advantage to 51-30.

“Ryan got hot,” said McElhinny.

Coblentz had 23 points.

Maplewood spread its scoring out between 11 different players. Leading the way behind Coblentz was Bob Bowler and Ron Cierniakoski who had eight apiece. Bowler scored each of his in the first half, knocking down a pair of threes.

“I think we did well in the first half playing defense against them,” Mickle said. “They weren’t getting the shots. And we rebounded very well in the first half. The second half we were getting out-rebounded big time and we weren’t taking away their shots. And you’ve got to play four quarters.”

For Linesville, Shawn Kirby led the way with 11 points. It was his lowest tally of the season, following a pair of 20-point performances in the Lions’ last two outings. Getting the credit was some good defensive good work at the top of the zone by Jake Ferguson.

“We put a little more pressure on Kirby in the second half,” said McElhinny. “He’s a good player. But, these kids have played against each other enough times over the years. I think they know what to do against each other. And it was a real challenge for Jake and Shawn. But they both played real hard (Friday).”

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