Slippery Rock kept the score close in the first half.
By BILL ALBRIGHT
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -- Shaking off a slow start, Kennedy Catholic warmed things up during the final 18 minutes to cruise to a 54-32 win over Slippery Rock in a Mercer County Athletic Conference boys basketball game Tuesday.
"That is the first time in ages that we came out flat offensively," said Kennedy Catholic coach Tim Loomis. "I thought a couple of the guys came out not really focused and offensively ready to get the ball down the floor.
"[Dan] McElhinny did a good job, and thank goodness some of the younger guys like [Craig] Wellman and [Dan] Harris did a real good job for us tonight," Loomis added. "This is the first time since Christmas that we didn't get after it and pound somebody early."
Although sluggish on the offensive end of the floor, the Golden Eagles (16-4) controlled the boards (36-17) and played tough defense.
Objective: "We have really been focusing on rebounding during the last 10 games," said Loomis. "We wanted to push the ball inside, and if McElhinny got some points [he had 19] on the perimeter, great, and if he didn't, we didn't care.
"We are getting to the point where we can hold people to six or eight points a quarter, so it was a good defensive effort, if nothing else."
Slippery Rock coach Chris Burtch agreed.
"They are not the kind of team that is going to force you into a lot of turnovers," said Burtch. "But they just don't ever give you a good shot. You can run your offensive pattern for two minutes, and then after two minutes, you still get a 30-footer."
Ramone Truxon capably handled Kennedy Catholic's inside game, scoring 12 points and grabbing 16 rebounds.
"He just dominated the boards and we also got a little offense out of him as well," Loomis said. "If we are going to go anywhere, he and [Phil] Doyle have to score inside."
The Rockets had trouble on the offensive end, but Burtch was pleased with their defense.
"When you hold the No. 4 ranked team in the state to 54 points, I can't fault that type of effort," Burtch said. "But we had trouble scoring against them in both games. It wasn't that we were cold in the two games. It was just the fact that Kennedy played great defense against us."
The Rockets (11-9) hung around for much of the first half, only trailing by five with two minutes left before the break. But from there, the Eagles scored the final six points of the half to lead 26-15 before stretching their margin over the final two periods.
Analysis: "I told the kids after the game that this loss boiled down to three things," said Burtch. "We had a breakdown at the end of the first quarter, a breakdown at the end of the second quarter and they went on a 9-0 run to start the third.
"That was the whole ball of wax."