Kevin Goheen reports:
Lakota West completed an impressive weekend of work by beating Withrow 69-56 Monday night in the championship game of the inaugural LaRosa’s Royal 8 Hardwood Classic at Fairfield.The Firebirds, unranked in last week’s Enquirer Division I coaches’ poll, got 49 points from the guard trio of Ali Barnes, Tyler Williams and Malik Grove to hand the No. 4 Tigers just their second loss in 14 games this season.
Lakota West beat No. 3 St. Xavier 55-50 in Sunday’s semifinals. The Firebirds have now won six straight games to improve to 10-4 on the season.
The three guards took turns as leading scorers in the three-game tournament; Williams had 22 against Anderson on Saturday, Barnes had 18 against St. Xavier and Grove had 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting against Withrow.
Barnes was named the Player of the Game Monday as he had 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Williams added 11 points and seven assists.
“When we’re rolling like that we’re the best team in the city,” said Barnes. “When us three guards are playing like that and we’re together everyone is knocking down shots. When we’re knocking down shots it opens up the inside game for people like Tyler Bowling and Justin (Martin) and Zach Moo Young.”
Bowling, a 6-foot-8 junior center, scored 13 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as the Firebirds won the battle of the boards 43-35. Withrow had 21 offensive rebounds with 18 second-chance points against Fairfield in the semifinals but had just six second-chance points on 12 offensive rebounds Monday.
“We knew they were going to come out and be overly-aggressive and attack the boards after every missed shot so we had everybody crashing the boards,” said Bowling, who had his fifth double-figuring rebounding game of the season. “We knew that’s what we needed to do to win.”
Monday was the fourth game in four days for Withrow. The Tigers beat Woodward in a Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference game Friday night before beating Turpin and No. 7 Fairfield to reach the final.
The teams were tied, 12-12, at the end of the first quarter but Lakota West outscored Withrow 17-9 over the final 5:28 of the second quarter to take control. Grove had 10 points during that run, including two 3-pointers and a spinning baseline jumper two seconds before halftime to give the Firebirds a 35-25 lead.
Withrow never got closer than six points in the second half.
“No excuses but we were dog tired,” said Withrow coach Ty Gibert. “West played lights out tonight and they’re playing great ball. I’m not taking anything away from them. They beat us but we were dog tired. We ran into a buzz saw tonight.”
Senior guard Corey Wise scored 24 points to lead the Tigers, while senior guard Timothy Coleman added 14.
Withrow shot just 38.7 percent (24 of 62) from the field overall and made just four of its 22 attempts from 3-point range. The Tigers went to the free throw line just six times, making four of their attempts.
Lakota West held St. Xavier to 21-of-61 (34.4 percent) shooting in the semifinals, utilizing an aggressive zone in both games.
“We were really trying to protect and cover up Coleman as much as we could,” said Lakota West coach Sean Van Winkle. “He got some shots off but they weren’t on the 3-point line, they were about 25-feet out. The guys did a great job with the scouting report the last two games with that in mind.”