by Jim Manion | Correspondent
Stow -- There is a reason the Akron East boys basketball team has won three Division II district titles in the last four years.
The Dragons are quick, fast and they shoot the ball well and get up and down the floor with precision. On March 2, Akron East displayed most of those skills as it eliminated the Streetsboro 62-44 in a sectional title contest at Stow-Munroe Falls High School.
The Rockets made things interesting in the first 16 minutes, but a 33-18 scoring edge by the Dragons in the second half spelled the end of the season for Streetsboro.
Despite the loss, Rockets head coach Nick Marcini was pleased with the effort.
"We came out and I thought we competed," he said. "They are a tough team and we had our chances to take the lead in the first half. We took some bad shots and had a couple turnovers but still competed. They amped it up a little in the second half."
Akron East's Demetrius Ray hit a trio of three-pointers in the first quarter to push the Dragons to a 20-14 advantage at the first stop.
Akron East (15-8) scored the first 11 points of the contest before Devin Rencher put in a rebound at the 4:24 mark. Brandon Gency then hit back-to-back three's to get the Streetsboro offense started. Gency hit a baseline layup inside the one-minute mark and Paul Jenkins scored a fast-break basket at the buzzer on an assist from Jordan Matusik.
The Rockets (11-12) opened the second quarter on a 10-4 run and locked the score at 22 midway into the stanza. A pair of fast-break baskets by Rencher keyed the Streetsboro rally.
The Rockets scored four straight fast-break baskets and continually beat the Dragons down the court. The game was tied three times in the second quarter before Akron East's DaQuinn Nash hit a three inside the one-minute mark to take a 29-26 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Dragons were the No. 3 seed in the district and put the game away in the third quarter when they outscored Streetsboro 21-9 to take a 50-35 lead entering the final quarter. Three long-range treys by Akron East and five Rockets' turnovers helped key the rally. The Dragons closed out the quarter on a 14-2 run. Both teams got the opportunity to empty the bench in the final quarter.
Nash led all scorers with 17 points, hitting three triples, while Derik Lewis finished with 15 and Ray scored 14. Ray knocked down four three-pointers and added eight rebounds.
"We got a great underclassmen group coming in and we will keep that tough schedule despite coming back into the county division next year,"said Marcini.
Matusik led the Streetsboro scoring with 16 points, while Paul Jenkins scored 10 points and led the team on the boards with eight rebounds.
It was the final game for Matusik and fellow Rockets' seniors Brandon Gency, Dorian Williams, Johnny Kelly, Brian Diulus and Brandon Diulus.