By DAVID HARPSTER
Independent sports writer
WOOSTER With two of Wooster’s starters measuring 6-foot-6 and 6-7, the Massillon Tigers were already on the short end of one battle prior to Tuesday’s boys basketball game.
Those numbers didn’t stop Massillon from playing like the bigger team for much of the game, however, as the Tigers hit the boards early and often on their way to an impressive 62-51 win over the Generals.
The victory moves Massillon to 6-2, while Wooster is 4-9.
“We tell the kids that there are things that are taught, and there are things that are done. Offensive rebounding is not taught,” said Massillon head coach Larry Taylor, whose team pulled down 20 offensive rebounds. “The kids understand that and they know how we’re going to be outsized a lot of times this season. But how high do they jump? How strong are they?
“Tonight came down to two things. We had to win the battle in the paint, and we had to win the battle of the test of toughness. Those kids passed both of them with flying colors.”
Facing a Wooster front line led by 6-7 Adam O’Brien and 6-6 Cameron Daugherty, Massillon set the tone early by being the quicker team to the ball. Massillon’s first three baskets came courtesy of offensive rebounds, the first two by Reggie Rogers and the other by Jaron Johnson. The Tigers closed the first quarter with an 11-4 run — spurred by D’Angelo Stewart’s seven points — to lead 19-14.
Massillon took its first double-digit lead of the game at 27-16 after consecutive 3-pointers from Steve Suarez and Johnson midway through the second quarter. While Wooster closed to 27-23 on Nolan Bricker’s 3-pointer, Massillon closed the first half with a 6-0 run on two Rogers’ baskets and a Jordan Stock field goal.
Massilllon’s lead grew to as many as 17 in the third quarter (43-26). Wooster closed to 43-34 on back-to-back 3-pointers from Bricker and a Daugherty inside basket. The Tigers led 46-34 after three quarters and maintained their double-digit margin for much of the final quarter.
Stock led Massillon with 17 points and 14 rebounds, seven of those coming on the offensive glass. Stewart scored 15 points, Rogers added 10 points and Johnson and Suarez contributed seven points each.
It was exactly the kind of offensive balance Taylor envisioned at the start of the season.
“We like to teach depth and that five-man concept of contributing,” Taylor said. “Steve Suarez played a great game tonight. He and Jaron scored 14 combined, DA (Stewart) scored 15 ... that’s the balance we’re looking for. When we pass the ball well, our team is a very good team.”
Daugherty led Wooster with 25 points, but the Generals had just three other players score. Massillon finished with a 42-32 edge in rebounds.
“Every single one of our kids contributed on the defensive end,” Taylor said. “The game plan was we had to understand how good Daugherty is and pick our battles. We won the battles where we could win them.”
Massillon 62, Wooster 51
MASSILLON (6-2) Rogers 5 0-2 10, Stewart 6 1-2 15, Block 2 2-4 6, Suarez 2 2-3 7, Johnson 3 0-1 7, Stock 5 7-8 17. Totals: 23-60 12-19 62.
WOOSTER (4-9) Wharton 0 0-2 0, Bricker 4 2-4 13, Daugherty 10 5-6 25, Lepley 1 0-0 2, Blair 0 0-4 0, O'Brien 3 5-6 11. Totals: 18 12-22 51.
Massillon 19 14 13 16 — 62
Wooster 14 9 11 17 — 51
3-pointers—Bricker 3, Stewart 2, Suarez, Johnson. Fouls—Massillon 17-14. Fouled out—none. Rebounds—Massillon 42 (Stock 14), Wooster 32.