by Michael Leonard | Sports Editor
Akron -- The similarities between the Nordonia and Brecksville-Broadview Heights boys basketball teams were striking.
Both teams entered the Division I regional semifinal with records of 22-3.
Both teams were ending long regional appearance droughts. Nordonia was playing its first regional game since 1993, while the Bees were playing their first regional game since 1980.
All signs pointed to a close game between the two neighboring schools when they met March 13 at the James A. Rhodes Arena at the University of Akron.
It was an instant classic, but the Knights fell one bucket short of victory.
Down as much as 44-32 late in the third quarter, Nordonia stormed back, only to see Brecksville escape with a 71-68 win.
Nordonia had a chance to tie with 1.8 seconds left, but center Chris Scott's 40-foot shot bounced off the side of the rim as the final buzzer sounded.
The Knights finished the season at 22-4.
Brecksville advanced to play Toledo Rogers in the regional final March 16 at the University of Toledo. The Bees lost 63-61 in overtime.
The fact his team nearly made a valiant comeback didn't improve Nordonia coach Matt Cash's mood after the contest.
"It was a up and down game like we expected," Cash said. "We knew going in they shoot the three ball really well. We just didn't show up in the first half. We just didn't show up until the fourth quarter. That's when we decided to wake up and decided to play and in a regional semifinal game, that's just too bad."
The Bees' first five field goals came from beyond the three-point arc and Brecksville finished 12-of-29 from three-point land.
Nordonia's prowess from deep wasn't two shabby, either, as the Knights went 11-of-25 from beyond the arc.
Nordonia started the game with 5-0 lead, but four three-pointers and a free throw from junior Tim Tupa allowed Brecksville to take a 13-11 lead after the first quarter.
Senior Mark Chrzanowski led the Bees with 20 points and nine rebounds. He was one of four Bees in double figures.
Brecksville took a 48-36 lead into the fourth quarter.
Senior Nick Piotrowski erupted for 11 of his game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter. What's more, he gave Brecksville a taste of its own medicine, hitting three trifectas.
Behind Piotrowski's lead, Nordonia put up 30 fourth-quarter points.
Senior Chris Scott had 14 points and nine rebounds and sophomore Alex Alders added 11 points for Nordonia. Brecksville had Matt Csuhran with 17 points, Tim Tupa with 11, Tyler Tupa with 10 and Tommy Tupa with nine.