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Lyndhurst -- It was a mismatch in a boatload of ways.
Brush had significant advantages in height, quickness and athleticism over the Stow-Munroe Falls boys basketball team.
The Arcs also were playing on their home floor.
And if those factors weren't enough, the Bulldogs were missing their second leading scorer because of an injury.
In the end, all of these things proved to be too much for Stow to overcome.
But the Bulldogs sure can't wait for the rematch.
The Bulldogs dropped to 1-3 in the Northeast Ohio Conference River Division after losing a tense 50-44 loss to Brush Jan. 11 in Lyndhurst.
Stow, which also lost a 39-37 decision to Cleveland John Hay Jan. 12 at home, was trailing 43-42 and had the ball with less than a minute left. But Brandon Dawson came up with a steal and converted a three-point play for the Arcs. Brush, which has won the last three meetings against the Bulldogs, eventually put the game away at the free throw line.
"I am absolutely pleased," longtime Bulldogs head coach Dave Close said. "Our kids showed a lot of toughness. It was a gritty effort. They hung around until the end."
The Arcs (10-2, 4-0) led by as many as 11 (41-30) early in the fourth quarter before the Bulldogs stormed back.
Dawson, who seemed to be everywhere on this night, led Brush with 16 points. His ability to make plays in recent weeks has caught the eyes of his head coach.
"Brandon has been phenomenal for us," Arcs head coach Jayson Macauda said. "Stow is always going to be well-coached. They always have kids who know how to play."
The Bulldogs were missing one of their top scorers. Guard Jacob Williams, who is second on the team in scoring behind forward Matt Beech, was unable to play due to an ankle injury.
"Jacob has a sprained ligament in his foot," Close said. "At first, we thought it was a fracture. He tried to give it go, but he couldn't do it."
Williams returned to the floor against John Hay. He finished with seven points.
Brush also was missing a starter in guard/forward Sean Gooden, who was out with a leg injury.
The Arcs did not shoot for a particularly high percentage. But that turned out to be a minor issue.
Brush got just about every rebound. All told, the Arcs had a 34-11 edge on the glass.
"There's always a component to it [rebounding]," Close said. "You have to take ownership and block out better. But Brush is very athletic."
It didn't help that Stow had foul problems in the first 16 minutes. Three Bulldogs' starters were forced to the bench in the second quarter because they had two fouls apiece.
Nevertheless, Stow, despite using some players who had not played too many varsity minutes, managed to stay with its more talented opponent.
Close was particularly pleased with his freshman point guard, Nathan Bower, who finished with nine points.
"We had a freshman making his first varsity start and he was tremendous," Close said.
Beech led the Bulldogs with 13 points and guard Eric Schaffer had nine points. Chris Oakley had 12 points for Brush.
Beech scored nearly two-thirds of Stow's points against John Hay. He finished with 24 points and four steals.
The Bulldogs were scheduled to visit River Division rival Twinsburg Jan. 18. Results were not available at press time.
They are set to host NOC foe Brunswick Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. and Barberton Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m.