SALEM - East Palestine jumped out to an early 11-0 lead before cruising to a 61-33 win over Columbiana Monday in a Division III sectional tournament opener at Salem High School.
The Bulldogs' pressure got to Columbiana (2-19) early and often, leading to several transition baskets. After a short jumper by Nick Berger finally put the Clippers on the board, East Palestine (12-9) closed out on another big run and finished the first quarter up 23-3. Senior Zak Brockman scored 12 in the quarter - 10 in the paint and two at the foul line - to lead the Bulldogs.
"We played good in the first quarter," East Palestine coach Tom Bingham said. We really executed. We've been doing that the last three weeks or so-we're playing our best basketball of the year right now."
East Palestine head coach Tom Bingham talks to his team during a time out against Columbiana Monday in Ohio Division III Northeast District Tournament play Monday at Salem. (Photo courtesy Gary Leininger)
East Palestine pulled ahead as much as 30-5 in the second quarter before Columbiana went on a 10-3 run to close the half down 33-15. Despite playing hard throughout the second half, the Clippers never got closer than 16 after that.
"Every time they cut it to around 15, we'd score two or three in a row," Bingham said.
Brockman finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs, while Jake DiCello added 12 points and 10 assists. Austen Reiser finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, Cody Stewart added 11 points and four steals and Tyler Foster grabbed eight rebounds.
East Palestine 61, Columbiana 33
CO (33): Bryce Fanken 0 1-2 1, Kyle Bryan 2 0-0 4, Nate Jarofalo 0 2-2 2, Joe Munyon 2 0-0 6, Jake DeJong 4 2-3 10, Austin Miner 3 1-1 8, Devon Rice 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 12 6-8 33.
EP (61): Tyler Foster 1 0-0 3, Austen Reiser 5 0-0 11, Jake DiCello 4 3-3 12, Travis Cope 3 0-0 6, Zak Brockman 8 2-4 18, Cody Stewart 4 3-4 11. TOTALS: 25-50 8-11 61.
CO 03-12-12-06 - 33
EP 23-10-11-17 - 61
Three-point field goals: Columbiana - 3 (Munyon 2, Miner); East Palestine - 3 (Foster, Reiser, DiCello)
"Jake DiCello played an outstanding floor game for us," Bingham said. "He was controlling the tempo, making decisions. Ten assists to two turnovers is a game I'll take anytime."
East Palestine will play second-seeded South Range at 6 p.m. Wednesday. The teams split their two regular-season contests.
"We're going to have to play very well to compete with them," Bingham said. "We played two good games with them. They're a good team. When they're on, they're very good."
For Columbiana, Jacob DeJong scored 10 points and Austin Miner added eight.