Despite its big man battling foul problems, Hoover was able to hold off GlenOak in the Federal League.
There were plenty of times in the second quarter when Randy Montgomery grew tired of his patience during Hoover’s 75-54 boys high school basketball victory over GlenOak on Friday night.
Hoover’s head coach didn’t have much choice.
He had to sit his 6-foot-5 senior leader and force in the middle of his defense, Harrison Blackledge. And sat him he did.
With two quick fouls early in the first quarter, Blackledge sat in agony. Meanwhile, GlenOak took advantage of the void in Hoover’s defense. So much so, the Golden Eagles led by 11 points in the middle of the second.
Then Dom Iero got open. Then Blackledge returned. Montgomery and the Vikings found the gas pedal, and ran away at Hoover High School.
“It isn’t easy,” Montgomery said of watching one of his key players on the bench for 14 of 16 minutes in the first half. “At Lake, he got two early (fouls) and while we were debating taking him out, he picked up a third. ... You want your best players out there. Those were tough calls. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Blackledge spent the third quarter in the right place all the time.
He scored 10 of his 14 points in the third quarter and, more importantly, his presence in the middle didn’t allow easy penetration baskets by GlenOak. Blackledge also grabbed eight of his 11 rebounds in the third.
“He was a monster,” Montgomery said.
Iero and Blackledge combined for 18 of Hoover’s 29 third-quarter points. Iero finished with a game-high 25 points, with seven 3-pointers doing most of the damage.
“(Blackledge) is a big part of their defense, and Iero is the key to their perimeter game,” GlenOak head coach Jack Greynolds Jr. said. “When you take those two out of the picture, they’re a lot like the rest of us.”
Hoover also got 14 points from Nick Evans.
GlenOak went on an early 10-0 run and took a 10-2 lead. During that span, Blackledge was called for two fouls. The second was a strong move Blackledge made to the basket that looked to end Hoover’s bleeding on the offensive end.
However, Blackledge was called for a charge.
But GlenOak, which had 10 points halfway through the first, managed just eight the rest of the way.
Iero hit three 3-pointers in the first to keep GlenOak from really running away. He then drilled a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter that started a 12-0 North Canton run.
“That was huge,” Montgomery said. “Getting up before halftime and being able to hold down the fort, and get to the third and hit the gas pedal.”
The Vikings ended the first half that way. With 1:33 left, Evans converted a three-point play to tie the game. His free throw with 1:14 showing gave the Vikings a 33-32 lead at halftime. It was their first since the game started.
Page 2 of 2 - With a 49-42 lead, Hoover broke the game open in the final two minutes of the third. Blackledge, Iero and Evans took turns making big baskets.
Blackledge, though, was dominant in the third. The Vikings had struggled on the boards without him. He was well rested after painfully watching most of the first half.
GlenOak was led by Jeronte Robinson’s 15 points.