By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
Ursuline senior Andre Edmonds scored 20 points in the game.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Ursuline High boys basketball team knows all about overcoming odds. The Irish proved it Saturday.
With senior Jimmy Riley on a football recruiting trip, senior Kevin Coleman down with an injury and an 11-point first-half deficit hovering over them, the Irish rallied for an 83-76 victory over Massillon at the Ursuline High gymnasium.
"This is a big confidence booster going into the SVC [part of the schedule]," said Ursuline junior Isaiah Poindexter, who scored a team-high 24 points.
Bouncing back: Ursuline (8-1), which hadn't played since a 45-43 loss to Newton Falls on Dec. 29, made its most impressive statement in the opening stages of the second half.
The Irish scored the first 20 points while Massillon missed its first nine shots; the result was a 61-40 Ursuline lead with just under three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
"That's the way we're capable of playing," Ursuline coach Steve Leslie said. "They just came out very confident, and that's the way they played."
Massillon could never recover from the Irish's flurry of points, nine of which came from senior Andre Edmonds, who totaled 20 for the game.
The Tigers (3-4) cut their deficit to six points twice in the final minute, but Ursuline preserved the victory at the free throw line.
Tigers on top: Revealing its athleticism and beating Ursuline's press, Massillon ran out to a 24-13 lead after the first quarter.
"In order to be a good basketball team, we had to overcome the loss to Newton Falls; how quickly we were going to come out of the gate," Leslie said. "And they [Massillon] jumped us."
Poindexter said, "We came out a little sluggish, and we knew we had to do something about it. We stepped it up on defense and started jumping in passing lanes. We got it done."
The Tigers' 6-foot-6 Shawn Crable was dominant inside, scoring 17 of his game-high 32 points in the first half. But he was held to three points in the third quarter during Ursuline's 20-point run that put it in command.
"I told them at halftime, 'We're not going to change anything. We're going to keep pressing,' " Leslie said. "I know we were giving up layups, but that [pressing style] is the way we have to play. We felt if we got into a halfcourt game with them, they'd really get the ball inside and hurt us."
Down and out: Coleman was floored on a collision with 6:27 remaining in the first half and appeared to have suffered a nose injury; Leslie said the senior starter had trouble breathing. Coleman, who made two 3-pointers in his limited action, remained on the floor for 10 minutes while a number of people tended to him.
With Coleman out, Ursuline stepped up. Poindexter scored 16 of his points in the second half, Edmonds had 13 of his after halftime and senior point guard Marc Palermo added 21 points for the game.
"We knew we had to come together," Poindexter said. "[Coleman] is a big part of our team; he's one of our leaders. So we just came out and played for him."