“That was the biggest thing: What was our mindset coming into it. You know you’re heavily favored (and) you’re playing a team that is inferior to you,” Western Reserve coach Chris Sheldon said. “That was the challenge to our guys. We said, ‘If you want to be great, great teams take care of business against teams they’re supposed to.”
The Roughriders (3-0) grabbed their first Firelands Conference win of the season Thursday with a resounding 75-38 win.
Sheldon knew Western couldn’t overlook Mapleton (0-2, 0-1).
“Great teams — they don’t care who they’re playing. They go out and compete and get after it — and our guys did that. That’s all we can ask for,” he said.
After “a little bit of sluggish first quarter” offensively and defensively, Sheldon said he saw his squad gather some intensity and be more disciplined in the next two periods.
“We wanted to come in and get some work done (and) take care of business early; we did that and goal accomplished,” the coach added.
Western led 21-17 after the first period. Junior Luke Rowlinson scored 10 of those points.
Rowlinson led the overall scoring attack with 20 points, his average this season. The junior was perfect shooting free throws (4 for 4). He also grabbed seven rebounds and had three steals.
“His teammates did an outstanding job of finding him, but then Luke did a great job of attacking the rim and finishing. … He didn’t shoot it particularly well from the three(-point line), which is not common for him, but he found other ways to score and that’s what good basketball players do,” Sheldon said.
Junior John Skrada added 13 points.
Two of Western’s guards attacked the rim. Sophomore Jude Muenz led the way with 11 rebounds while junior Cory Hipp contributed seven.
“We truly only have one big post player, so our guards have to rebound and that’s an effort thing,” Sheldon said. “(When) your two smallest guys combine for 18 rebounds, that talks about the type of effort and intensity that we need our guards to play with.”
Western took a 38-19 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The ’Riders only connected on four three-point shots.
“Tonight was not our night behind the line. We only shot 19 percent from three,” Sheldon said. “For a team like us to only hit 19 percent from three and you win by (nearly) 40, I guess if you’re going to have a bad shooting night — not that you want it — those are the nights.”
Western players made 28 shots from within the arc, hitting 72 percent of their baskets.
“That tells you you’re getting a lot of things you want in the paint. Our kids did an outstanding job of that,” Sheldon said.
In junior varsity action, Western also dominated Mapleton, 55-20. The ’Riders were up 33-5 at the half.
Sophomore Camden Hankins hit five three-pointers on the way to 19 points. Classmates Jacob Jarrett and Carson Roe each added 10.
Western goes to Keystone for a non-league game Saturday. The junior-varsity game starts at 4 p.m.
“(They’re) probably the best team we will have played to date,” Sheldon said. “They’re a good team out of the Lorain County league over there, a Div. II team. We’re going to go over there and see what we can do on the road.”
The coach considers Keystone a reflection of his own squad.
“They’re very similar to us. They have a lot of athletic guards (who) can shoot it, who can handle (the ball) to pass it. They’ve got three or four guys (who) can score the ball and they’ve got a nice athletic, big kid to go with them. It’s almost a mirror image of ourselves in a lot of ways,” Sheldon said.
“It’s going to be a nice test in a non-league game on Saturday,” added the coach, whose team has won all three games by about 20 points.
“We haven’t been tested. I know we’re going to be tested, come Saturday. We’re going to find out what we’re made of when we’re tested a little bit.”
Follow Reflector staff writer Cary Ashby on Facebook at "Cary Ashby — reporter & comic book blogger” and on Twitter at @Cary_reporter.
MAPLETON (0-2, 0-1)
Mason Hickey 1-0-2; Gage Scurlock 3-0-8; Cam Sloter 2-0-4; Jake Ziegler 2-0-5; Calvin Vermilya 2-0-5; Beau Galbraith 1-2-4; Collin Grundy 1-0-2; Evan Garwood 1-0-3; Travis DuBois 1-3-5. TOTALS 14-5-38
WESTERN RESERVE (3-0,1-0)
Luke Wyers 1-0-2; Cory Hipp 3-0-6; Nate Perkins 3-0-6; Jacob Jarrett 1-0-2; John Skrada 5-2-13; Jude Muenz 4-1-9; Matt Jarrett 3-0-7; Camden Hawkins 2-0-6; Tate Drennen 1-0-2; Luke Rowlinson 8-4-20; Carson Roe 1-0-1. TOTALS 32-7-75
Mapleton 12 7 4 16 — 38
Western Reserve 21 17 24 13 — 75
3-point FGs: (M) Scurlock (2), Ziegler, Vermilya, Garwood. (WR) Skrada, Jarrett, Hankins (2)
JV: Western Reserve 55-20