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STOW -- A couple of weeks ago, longtime Stow-Munroe Falls head boys basketball coach Dave Close wanted his team to avoid being just a 3-point shooting team.
The Bulldogs certainly proved they can score in a variety of ways. But the shot from downtown continues to be their bread and butter.
Host Stow improved to 12-4 overall with a convincing 78-60 victory over Suburban League crossover rival Barberton Feb. 7 at James G. Tyree Gymnasium.
The Bulldogs, who also defeated Twinsburg 59-45 to improve to 9-1 in the Suburban League National Conference, made 15 3-pointers on the evening, including eight in the first quarter.
"We made shots," Close said. "We like to have a mix. We should be trying to get it inside, but if guys are getting it going and making shots, they're not going to stop."
The Magics (8-8) didn't shoot particularly bad from long distance either. Barberton converted 10 shots from beyond the arc.
In the long run, the first quarter won the game for Stow.
The Bulldogs, playing at a very fast pace, drained rainbows from just about everywhere on the court. Other than two buckets in the paint by 6-foot-8 junior forward Mason McMurray, all of Stow's buckets came from about 20 feet and beyond. As a result of this precise shooting, the Bulldogs, who had a 33-12 edge on the glass, had a 28-14 lead.
It was pretty much a stalemate the rest of the way, but Stow's hot shooting in the opening quarter was the difference in the game.
"The kids shot it well across the board," Close said. "We got kids that can shoot. When they get it going, it can be fun to watch. We got some offensive rebounds."
Coryon Rice was particularly lethal on this night.
The junior point guard canned three 3-pointers in the first eight minutes, including a bomb from the right side in the final seconds of the opening quarter.
Rice, who finished with a game-high and season-high 27 points off the bench, also scored the final buckets of the second and third quarters.
The third-quarter heave might have been the shot of the night.
With less than 10 seconds left, Rice calmly brought the ball past midcourt, took a few more dribbles and launched a high-arching 3 from close to 30 feet that found nothing but net. That gave the Bulldogs a 62-45 lead.
Rice finished with seven 3-pointers on the evening.
"Coryon is playing as well as he has played in the last three years," Close said.
McMurray scored 16 points and added a game-high 10 rebounds. McMurray made two 3-pointers.
Evan Bainbridge, a 6-8 sophomore forward, scored 11 points for Stow and senior guard Logan Lindsay scored 9 points on three 3-pointers.
Senior guard Jordan Jolly made two triples and scored 8 points for the Bulldogs, who led 45-30 at halftime.
Sophomore guard Jordan Soyars, who attacked the basket much of the night, scored 16 points and juniors Zane Ries (guard) and Jordan Greynolds (forward) contributed 9 points apiece for the Magics, who missed all four of their foul shots.
"We put [senior guard/forward] Nick [Kollar] on Greynolds and [senior point guard] Jared [Wright] on Ries," Close said. "We thought Greynolds was their most dangerous player and Ries was their second best guard."
Stow finished with more 3-pointers than 2-point field goals. The Bulldogs made 14 baskets inside the arc and shot 52 percent (29-of-56) from the field and 58 percent (15-of-26) from beyond the 3-point arc. Stow converted 5-of-8 foul shots.
The first half featured a total of just two fouls as both teams played a rapid pace that featured lots of shots from long distance.
Stow earned a 48-45 overtime win in the junior varsity game. Sophomore guard Bryce Harvey knocked down a 3-pointer in the closing seconds to seal the win.
The Bulldogs also scored a 55-42 victory in the freshman contest.
Host Stow improved to 9-1 in the Suburban League National Conference after posting a 59-45 victory over Twinsburg Feb. 3.
McMurray led the Bulldogs with a game-high 24 points and Rice added 15 points. Both McMurray and Rice drained three 3-pointers.
Stow had a 30-14 edge on the glass. McMurray led the way with 8 rebounds.
Once again, Close had high praise for Kollar, who was his usual menacing self on defense.
"Nick is a tremendous defensive player," Close said. "He takes pride in it. Against Twinsburg, we were pressuring them hard and took them out of what they wanted to do. They held the ball and I told Nick to ease up so he wouldn't let his man get by him. He said to me, 'He can't get by me, coach.' That's what a coach wants to hear."
The Bulldogs posted a 40-39 win in the JV contest.
Stow was scheduled to entertain National Conference rival Hudson Feb. 10. Results were not available at press time.
The Bulldogs are set to visit National Conference rivals Cuyahoga Falls Feb. 14 and Brecksville-Broadview Heights Feb. 17. Both varsity games are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.