Cuyahoga Falls, OH- Saturday night, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy didn’t have to travel far for a top-25 showdown as they share Wyoga Lake Road with their friendly rivals Walsh Jesuit.
The #20 (15-5) Royals came into the contest with an impressive 7-0 road record, while the #22 (14-6) Warriors defended home well with a 7-1 home record, setting prodigious implications for both teams. The Warriors were looking to avenge a 55-42 home loss last year in this Falls rivalry. This game drew a near sold out crowd from fans both from the Akron and Cleveland area.
The Warriors jumped out an early lead using their lockdown team defense to not allow anyone not named Darryn Peterson to score which allowed the team to score in transition. Peterson, a rising star sophomore for Royals has had an outstanding season thus far. The 6’6 guard is leading the northeast Ohio area in scoring, averaging just over 30 points per game. Warriors head coach Kevin Byrnes knew it would be trouble trying to contain the young baller nicknamed “Bucket” by his father Darryl Peterson.
“We knew coming into the game, the plan would be anybody but him (Peterson) could not score," said Byrnes postgame.
Peterson scored half of the Royals 6 first quarter points. The Warriors led after the first quarter 13-6.
Entering the second quarter, the Royals needed to tighten things up. With Peterson doing the bulk of their scoring, others needed to step up. Coach Futch emphasized to his team to watch their fouls which favored Walsh in the first quarter 8-3. Royals senior guard Jonathan Fridline stepped up in the quarter and assisted Peterson with some scoring help, scoring four second quarter points to trim into the deficit. Peterson energized the Royal faithful in attended with a last second chase down block, followed by a steal which turned into a thunderous one handed dunk with less than two minutes before the halftime break. Peterson would also be fouled on a last second three point attempt before the buzzer, hitting two of three free throw shots to keep the team deficit in single digits 25-16.
Walsh opened the second half with an 8-3 run on the backs of 6’5 junior forward Sean Spicer and 6’3 senior forward Zach Halligan. Halligan scored 10 of his team high 19 points in the third quarter. Spicer scored 6 of his 13 total also in the third. Fridline and Peterson were the only two players for CVCA to score on the team through the third quarter, which was a testament to the defensive prowess the Warriors were showing. Peterson would bring the deficit to five with 4:28 on the clock in the third making the game interesting for a short moment before Halligan would came back with a three of his own, and Spicer was fouled while driving the lane on a layup attempt for a three point play, pushing the lead back to 11. The Warriors ended the quarter on a 15-0 run, taking a 45-25 commanding lead into the final quarter.
Walsh showed no complacency in the fourth, keeping the defensive intensity high. For a team that played three games in five days, including a close loss to Hoover on Tuesday, Walsh showed no signs of a hangover while on game two of a back to back. The starters kept the lead north of 20 points before CVCA senior guard Jackson Shelby and sophomore guard Caden Owens scored their first points of the ball game, taking pressure off Fridline and Peterson. Both teams did a full platoon swap, pulling their starters for reserves with less than two minutes as Walsh handed the Royals their first road loss on the season and moving to 8-1 in their home gym. Peterson finished with a game high 20 points for CVCA. Fridline finished with 11.
Next up for Walsh is a road game in Cleveland versus the Senate League champion James Ford Rhodes Rams on Tuesday. The Royals also are in competition on Tuesday with a home game against the Northwest Indians.