Clay Cox

Maplewood’s Clay Cox eyes up the defense during a Region 3 game against Eisenhower on Tuesday. Cox tallied eight points as the Tigers topped the Knights 47-31. 

GUYS MILLS — Both Maplewood and Eisenhower craved a win. The Tigers had dropped four straight while Eisenhower had lost five in a row. A confidence boost was needed and a hot start to the game could decide it. Maplewood showed up, took an 11-3 lead and never looked back.

On Tuesday night at Maplewood High School, the Maplewood Tigers beat Eisenhower 47-31 in a Region 3 boys basketball game.

“We come out getting after them,” said Maplewood head coach Shawn Rhoades. “We turned them over some, which is obviously the idea. It’s nice for them to get something out of it when they’re working hard and I think they did.”

The Tigers’ losing skid ends and they are now 4-7 overall and up to 2-2 in Region 3. Eisenhower falls to 1-7 overall and 0-3 in region play.

“(My team) just played with no energy tonight,” said Eisenhower head coach Wayne Lundmark.

Over the first four minutes Maplewood jumped out to a 7-0 lead. Clay Cox opened the scoring with a contested corner trey. After a pair of Jake Brunot free throws, Cox was able to find Jonathan Nageotte for a layup and the 7-0 lead.

Eisenhower, meanwhile, couldn’t find the hoop. The Knights went just 1 of 13 in the quarter with a lone 3-pointer from Curt Darling.

When asked about the slow start, Lundmark said, “I have no idea. Something they ate at the cafeteria? I don’t know.”

A second Cox triple with a minute left boosted the lead to 11-3 by the first quarter’s end.

Maplewood continued to strike in the second. Cox intercepted a pass and dished it over to Kaleb Donor for two. Following that was a step-back trey from Gage Bahle.

Joel Cox got involved in the offense with a couple driving scores in the paint and Maplewood expanded its lead to 27-10 at the half.

“We rotated some guys and kept the energy up so that was good,” said Rhoades. “We boxed out so, that was a bonus, and we were able to get out and run a little bit.”

Eisenhower made its push in the third with a big quarter from Jared Martone and Luke Smelko. Smelko scored five points quickly to spark an 8-2 run and cut the lead to 29-18. 

“Had we stayed with them in the first half, we would’ve been OK,” said Lundmark.

Clay Cox ended the run with a strong cut to the basket for 2. 

Martone and Maplewood traded baskets from there. Maplewood held onto a 37-24 lead going to the final frame.

The Tigers then iced it with a 9-0 run out of the break. Joel Cox sent a no-look pass over to Donor to start the run. Donor then made the nifty fast-break pass to set up Brunot for two. Bahle added a contested trey and Brunot tacked on another inside score to put the game out of the Knights’ reach.

“I thought (we responded) well,” said Rhoades. “They came out and responded to their run. Getting a region win is a good thing.”

Joel Cox led Maplewood with 10 points. Clay Cox and Brunot each scored eight while Bahle and Nageotte both tallied seven.

For Eisenhower, Martone scored 15, all in the second half. Smelko added seven.

Jordan Hansgen can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at jhansgen@meadvilletribune.com

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