Sto-Rox boys start fast, finish strong to avenge earlier loss to Springdale

Tuesday, January 21, 2020 | 10:09 PM

After losing to Springdale by one point in overtime a month ago, Sto-Rox was looking forward to Tuesday night’s return encounter.

The Vikings went up big early, and after the Dynamos narrowed the gap in the fourth quarter, Sto-Rox shifted to a higher gear and rolled to a 72-49 home victory to forge a tie for first place in Section 1-2A.

At one point, the Vikings held a 25-9 lead before Springdale rallied and cut its deficit to 48-41. But Sto-Rox went on a 24-9 tear to win convincingly.

The Vikings, No. 4 in the week’s TribHSSN poll, are tied with the Dynamos atop the section at 8-1.

No. 2 Springdale is 14-2 overall. Sto-Rox is 9-6, with six consecutive victories.

“We wanted a little revenge, that’s for sure,” Vikings coach Ryan Hughes said. “It felt good that we finally played a game that we’re capable of playing. When we’re locked in and playing like we can, this is the result we can get.”

Said Springdale coach Aaron Epps: “To be honest, I didn’t have a good feeling coming in. I didn’t think we had the right mindset in practice Monday. We didn’t have that killer instinct where we could have really put Sto away and be in the driver’s seat to win the section. We’re tied now, but we didn’t have the right mentality. Being young, we were a little tentative.”

Coming off a 23-point performance at Apollo-Ridge last Friday, senior swingman Malik Smith scored 22 and collected eight rebounds Tuesday.

“Some people might want to say there’s other guys out there that are better than him,” Hughes said about Smith, “but if you can find somebody better than him, I’d like to see him.”

Fellow senior Jamil Williams had 11 points, six rebounds and four steals, and for his twin brother, Jamal, it was crazy eights: eight points, eight rebounds and eight steals.

Springdale’s Demetri Fritch, the WPIAL’s third-leading scorer at 25.3 points per game, was held to 12 with an effective zone defense. In the teams’ previous meeting, Fritch had 42 points.

“The last time we played them, he penetrated against us everywhere on the court,” Hughes said. “We pressed a little bit. He broke our press. We packed it in this time and made a couple of guys come around him.”

A 3-pointer by Logan Reddinger with 5 minutes, 13 seconds left in the game brought the Dynamos to within 48-41. Springdale then failed to score on its next three possessions while Sto-Rox went on a 12-0 run that included three conversions of one-and-one foul shots by the Vikings.

“Is that not a shock?” Hughes asked rhetorically. “Usually, we’re the worst foul-shooting team in the world.”

Epps had a good feeling when Springdale had cut the Sto-Rox lead to seven, though Fritch had a basket wiped away by a charging foul moments earlier.

“I thought we really fought back,” Epps said. “The charge call was big because it changed the momentum of the game. We just weren’t ready for the moment. Bottom line, they were more physical than us.”

Sophomore Logan Dexter had another strong outing for Springdale with 15 points and 12 rebounds.

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