Three scored in double figures to lead Cuyahoga Heights to an 81-43 season-opening win over visiting Lake Ridge Academy on Tuesday.
The Redskins jumped out to a 23-8 first quarter lead and led 43-13 at halftime.
“We needed to get out there and play,” Cuyahoga Heights coach Michael Tartara said. “We are all excited and happy to start basketball season, every team is at this point. The objective is to stay together and bond through the tough times to make it special as we move forward.”
All 11 Redskins who saw action scored at least two points.
Nassiem Salem led the Redskins with 21 points and Bryan Washko and Curtis Davis also scored in double figures with 17 and 10, respectively.
“We had a few guys that shot well tonight,” Tartara said. “Good shooting hides a number of not so good things. The boys and our coaching staff have put lots of time into shooting over the offseason. I’m happy for them that it paid off on opening night.”
Salem finished the night with three 3-pointers and six free throws.
“It was very exciting,” Salem said of playing well on opening night. “I have been anticipating the start of the season. I have been working hard all offseason and it was great to get the win. What worked well for me tonight was just being able to get to the rack and getting to the foul line and being able to shoot the ball well.”
That success didn’t happen by accident.
“Nassiem is one of the hardest workers that we have had in 13 years at Cuyahoga Heights,” Tartara said. “He has been waiting patiently and working really hard to prepare for his senior year. He is doing very well in the classroom and on the floor. Nassiem is mentoring students that are struggling in school and taking an active approach to making Cuyahoga Heights a better place. He is taking his opportunity very seriously.”
Sam Shafer finished with seven points for the Redskins while Ryan Selig and Jake Lasky both contributed with six. Ryan Rose pitched in with four points and Jordan Stefanko and Kyle Polack both added three. Austin Knaack and Tristan DeFranco both scored a bucket in the win.
“It was good to see every player score tonight,” Tartara said. “Getting everyone involved is important. If the bench is involved the team stays engaged and motivated. A happy bench is a happy team.”
Tartara is even more encouraged by how well the Redskins played despite several players missing much of the preseason due to the football team’s postseason success.
“The football team made another run to the state semifinals,” Tartara said. “Getting that group of guys back was a big lift. Although they are a month behind, they are still super competitive and a great group of kids that will battle. They will only get better as the season progresses.”