STOW: There was a celebration for the highly successful Stow basketball teams of the early ’90s, honoring players and coaches from that time before the game against Barberton Friday night.
Only one of the honorees was happy afterward, and he was the man on the bench for the visiting Magics.
Barberton coach Ken Rector, who was the assistant to Stow coach Dave Close during the 1992-94 seasons, actually wasn’t all that happy himself late in his team’s 64-53 nonleague victory. After Stow (6-9) took advantage of a rash of turnovers to score seven in a row and cut its deficit to eight with 2:22 left, Rector called a timeout.
He slammed his clipboard to the floor and loudly implored his players to “take care of the ball.” The Magics responded with a 9-2 run to end the Stow comeback.
Joshua Williams converted four free throws on one possession, following a personal foul and a technical on a Stow player that made it 62-49 with 1:39 left.
“We’re better than that,” Rector said. “We’ve lost a couple games, and it’s been a team collective effort that we’ve gotten careless with the basketball when we’ve had some situations with the lead, or opportunities to take the lead. Sometimes we just lose our focus a little bit.”
Barberton (9-4) committed 15 turnovers in the second half, but Williams scored 10 of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter. Williams, a 6-foot-1 sophomore who leads the Magics in scoring most nights, also showed some frustration early in the second half when he committed three quick fouls and had to sit out most of the third quarter.
“The thing with Joshua is, nobody is harder on him that himself,” Rector said. “He works hard. He really wants to be a great player. And he expects to be great every time he’s out there on the court. When he’s not playing well in his own mind, he’s more disappointed than anybody.
“The player that he is, there was no doubt he was going to the line and making all four of those free throws.”
Williams also grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds. Barberton’s Phil Washington, a 6-2 junior, came off the bench to score 14 points and add six rebounds, all in the middle two quarters. The Magics never trailed after midway through the first quarter, and led 29-22 at the half. A 10-2 run, capped by Washington’s three-point play, increased it to 43-28 late in the third. Joshua’s big brother, 6-4, 260-pound Jerry Williams, added eight points and six rebounds.
“Calls weren’t going our way, things weren’t going our way,” Joshua Williams said. “We just had to refocus and keep our heads straight. A lot of young guys on the team stepped up. Phil Washington, he played a real good game. As long as we played good defense on the perimeter and kept our hands in their face, a lot of their shots wouldn’t fall.”
Matthew Beech, a husky 6-2 junior, led Stow with 16 points. But Stow shot just 16-of-46 from the floor.
“We’re struggling to score points and we knew that was going to be a challenge coming into the season,” Close said. “We think we’re getting good looks and good penetration. To beat good people, and Barberton has good people, you’ve got to make your share of your open chances and we’re struggling to do that.”
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