Girard holds off Struthers in tight battle | News, Sports, Jobs

GIRARD – Craig Hannon felt that his team had to play with a certain desperation.

The Girard Indians entered this Northeast 8 Conference game with two losses to them already and they couldn’t afford to lose their third halfway through the season.

It took courage to overcome a tough first quarter to crush Struthers’ Wildcats, 53-50.

“First off, give all the credit to Girard,” Struthers coach Michael Wernicki said. “They played well. They deserved this win. They were incredibly physical with us and that took us out of our game. Craig did a great job; the adjustments he made and his game plan. He had a better game plan than me tonight and his team fought hard and they deserved to win.

At least early on it looked like the Wildcats (6-3, 5-1) were going to shoot the Indians (8-3, 5-2) out of the gym, taking an 18-9 lead after an 8-of-14 shot .

“They made it difficult for us most of the night,” said Hanno. “I thought in the first quarter we didn’t respond well. They did a ton earlier than they have done all year. I just thought it was more because of what they did to us. They are physical. They attacked us and I’m happy with how we reacted in the second quarter, but they really punched us in the mouth early.

The Indians chased him in the second quarter after a Dante Colarossi bucket made it 22-13.

Girard responded with a 14-0 run to make it 27-22 with less than two minutes left in the first half.

From there, a 6-0 run from Struthers made it 28-27 at halftime.

Hannon felt the pace for most of the game was good as the Indians started to match what Struthers was doing in the first half to get back into the game.

“We want to play fast” he added. “I thought our execution was really good. I thought we needed a bucket. We have a bucket. It was the children who made a game and put the ball in the hoop.

The Indians responded with buckets throughout the third quarter to answer the Wildcats as it was 38-35 in favor of Struthers heading into the fourth quarter.

In the final quarter, Thomas Cardiero was huge for Girard with 10 points for his team, a team-high 18 points, as the Indians took a 49-44 lead after two straight buckets from him with two minutes left.

“Thomas is our rock” said Hanno. “We go to him when we need buckets. We go to him and we need free throws. He’s going to score a bunch of points for us but it’s all the little things. It was a great game tonight, him and Leonard, two great players, two great high school basketball players. It was really fun to watch even as a coach and I thought both guys rose to that challenge.

Leonard finished with a game-high 20 points and took the double-double with 12 rebounds as he tried to give the Wildcats a five-point victory in the final quarter that gave Struthers a 42-37 early lead. of the fourth.

The Wildcats rebounded from the Indians 37-30.

This made the game tricky for Girard as they had to turn off the lights to complete the comeback.

They did, shooting 6 of 9 in the last frame.

“They are huge” said Hanno. “It’s going to be tough to win the rebound battle against them because of their size. You don’t get second chance points on them. I thought Ronnie Leonard was just phenomenal. It is so impressive to watch. It is smooth. He handles the ball. He is strong. I think he played a great game. He deserves all the accolades he receives.

In the last minute it turned into a line game in which Austin Pozega responded with two critical free throws to make it 51-47 with 29.7 seconds left after a Colarossi 3 made 49-47.

“I thought Ashton played a good game under it” said Hanno. “These big boys are not easy to face. He hit two huge free throws at a time when he probably didn’t think that ball was coming his way.

Colarossi thought he was fouled on another 3-point attempt, but the foul was called on the floor. Both would be missing.

“These coins, you can sit here and point to singular coins”, said Wernicki. “We can go through a million and say it was the game, but it was the overall game. We had opportunities. We were in the first half. I don’t want to say we had them on the ropes, but I think there were six or eight of us.

“We got a little embarrassed. We made a few mistakes. We let them come back and the game was close until the end. I’m sure it was a great game to watch. It was a very intense match between two of the best teams in the region. I hope it will be a learning experience for us.

For the Indians, they did what they had to do at the line as they are back in contention for the league title.

“There are still a lot of things to clean up” said Hanno. “I thought it was a good start. I thought it was one of our best efforts. This league is going to have its ups and downs. There’s a bunch of good teams. We’re going to have to play a lot of big matches to win the prize.

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