BY DARRIN LAUTENSCHLEGER
Times-Reporter sports correspondent
CANTON As far as opening games go, New Philadelphia and Canton McKinley each learned a little bit about what it will take to be successful the rest of the season.
The Bulldogs shot the ball well, and senior guard Paul Ortiz canned six 3-pointers on the way to a 72-55 boys basketball victory over the Quakers at Memorial Fieldhouse on Tuesday night.
McKinley made 27 of 42 shots from the floor overall and took an early lead that it never gave up despite a few strong pushes from the Quakers. Ortiz led four Bulldogs in double-figure scoring with 24 points, while the Quakers only had four players score at all.
“I’m real pleased with and can’t say enough about our effort on both ends of the floor,” McKinley coach Keith Noftz said. “I thought we played unbelievably hard, and if we get that effort night in and night out, we can be competitive.”
New Philadelphia trailed early and was down 36-28 at halftime, which was not too bad considering the Quakers made only 11 of 25 shots and committed nine turnovers in the first two quarters.
“We learned that they are way better than us,” New Philadelphia head coach Chad Spurgeon said. “We’re out of shape, we made some poor decisions and at the end of the day, we can have a million excuses, but we just have to get better. Sometimes you have a game like this and you get that snapshot of what you need to do — and it may not be pretty, but it was exactly what you needed to see.”
The Quakers made 21 of 46 shots overall, but only 2 of 12 from 3-point range. Senior forward Marco Colombo led the Quakers in scoring with 26 points, while senior post Ethan Boose finished with 16 points. Caleb Beans also hit double figures with 10 points, and senior JoVohn Morrow had three.
The Bulldogs also got big nights from senior Sam Burton with 14 points, junior Marcellus Pittman with 13 and senior Jalen Olds with 12 points. McKinley led in rebounding 26-24 as Olds grabbed 11.
McKinley left little doubt it would maintain control of the game in the second half by outscoring the Quakers 17-8 in the third quarter. From there, the Bulldogs spread the floor and New Philadelphia chased in vain as McKinley closed out the win.
“Ortiz hitting those 3s early (four 3-pointers in the first half) was big and befuddled us,” Spurgeon said. “We tried a lot of different things but could not find that consistency that we need. We have plenty to work on.”
Noftz said he also was pleased with McKinley’s passing and ability to find the open player for easy baskets.
“We certainly have a long way to go, but this is a great way to open the season,” he said. “We absolutely respected (New Philadelphia) and know what they are capable of doing.”