Brock Netter, Staff Writer
KINNIKINNICK — North Adams admits that on Tuesday, it didn’t handle the physicality of Zane Trace very well.
But the Green Devils did more than enough to stay on top.
Despite losing the rebounding battle, North Adams (4-2) buried eight 3’s and took home a 62-51 victory over the Pioneers.
“We didn’t play very well overall, but we made the play when we had to,” North Adams coach Nathan Copas said. “Our boxing out was not good at all, even though it’s something we worked on, and we gave up way too many offensive rebounds. We didn’t come out physical enough early, even though we were hitting shots. Zane Trace is one of the more physical teams we will play in the post all year. So there’s definitely some things we can work on.”
Although the physicality part was a point of emphasis of things to work on, the Green Devils’ offensive balance looked solid as a rock.
Freshman guard Bransyn Copas kept the Pioneers (4-5) off balance all night with quick decisions and smart shots, finishing with a team-high 16 points.
Jayden Hesler used a quick first step, beating players off the dribble to add in 11 points. Meanwhile, Cade Meade battled in the post against Zane Trace’s Nalin Robinson, and held his own while chipping in 11 points and pulling down eight rebounds.
“Those three guys have been our most consistent scorers for us night in and night out,” Nathan Copas said. “We have guys like Andrew Brand and Seth Vogel who also hit some big shots for us as well, and that’s a luxury on top of having multiple guys in double figures every game. There’s a nice balance we have, and those guys played a solid game.”
After trading baskets in the opening minutes, North Adams got a spark off the bench when Lane Wagner buried a triple followed by a bucket and a foul from Fulton Kennedy that put them ahead 17-11.
The Green Devils had no trouble putting up shots in a hurry, but did so smartly with ball movement and making the extra pass for an open shot.
In total, they connected on five 3’s from Bransyn Copas, Brand, Hesler, Wagner and Seth Meade as they controlled a 32-26 lead over Zane Trace at halftime.
“I thought our guys did a solid job in the first half of hanging tough in the post with Robinson and [Kyle] Stonerock,” Nathan Copas said. “We were giving up a solid amount of size so it needed to be a team effort to rebound. Zane Trace hurt us at times with the screen and roll, so we switched a couple things and made them shoot a little more from the outside.”
However, that adjustment didn’t work out so well in the third as Robinson began to get to his spots and bring the Pioneers back to life.
He scored six straight points that tied the game at 38-38. But ZT couldn’t quite get over the hump as North Adams held a one-point lead heading into the fourth.
Then Bransyn Copas and Brand buried back-to-back triples to open the quarter, extending the lead to 49-42. From that point on, the Green Devils converted on 7-of-8 free throws to help put the game away.
“Down the stretch, we finally started playing our brand of basketball,” Nathan Copas said. “We had guys in the first half playing some minutes they weren’t used to, and they did a great job filling those roles while we dealt with some foul trouble. Overall, a solid road win for us and we’ll learn from this.”
Robinson finished with a game-high 17 points and eight rebounds for Zane Trace, followed by Stonerock and Ben Nichols with eight points each.
North Adams returns to the court on Tuesday at home against Jackson, while Zane Trace hits the road on Saturday at Piketon in SVC action.
North Adams: 17-15-11-19 — 62
Zane Trace: 11-15-16-9 — 51
North Adams: 20-40 FG, 14-23 FT, 8-17 3 pt., 21 rebounds (Cade Meade 8), 9 turnovers, 5 assists. Scoring: Copas 16, Cade Meade 11, Hesler 11, Kennedy 7, Brand 6, Seth Meade 5, Vogel 3, Wagner 3.
Zane Trace: 20-41 FG, 9-15 FT, 2-5 3pt., 24 rebounds (Robinson, Stonerock 8), 13 turnovers, 5 assists. Scoring: Robinson 17, Stonerock 8, Nichols 8, Ream 6, Hill 6, Nelson 4, Johnson 2.