The Cougars reclaimed the paint in a 62-55 win over Moon.
By ERIC POOLE
MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- There is a place on every basketball court where toughness is measured in rebounds and the timid need not show up.
It goes by many names -- the paint, the lane, under the rim, the low post.
And it was where the Moon High basketball team almost upset Blackhawk Friday by establishing a four-point halftime lead and a rebounding advantage of almost two to one.
The first-place Cougars (12-6, 7-1 in WPIAL Section 2-AAA) however, reclaimed that all-important patch of hardwood in the second half on the way to a 62-55 victory over the fourth-place Tigers.
"The difference in the game was the way they came out rebounding in the second half," Moon coach Jeff Ackerman said.
Turning point: Blackhawk doubled its point total in the third quarter to turn a 26-22 halftime deficit into a 44-37 lead.
Crucial in the Cougars' turnaround -- both in the rebounding totals and on the scoreboard -- was senior center Brian Omogrosso, who finished with seven rebounds and seven points while playing on a sore ankle that kept him out of last Tuesday's non-section loss to West Mifflin.
"He came out after the half and did a great job on a really bad ankle," Blackhawk coach John Miller said. "I'll tell you what, he's a warrior. He played almost all 32 minutes.
"We couldn't afford to take him out of the game."
The primary reason Miller didn't feel comfortable giving Omogrosso a break was Moon's Allan Shipley, who also finished with seven boards to share game rebounding honors.
The Tigers' six-foot sophomore widebody, better known as a football player, used his bulk to dominate under the hoop during the first half.
"Anybody who recruits him for football just needs to see him play basketball," Ackerman said. "I've never seen a kid that size move that quick."
Moving ahead: Blackhawk didn't get its first lead of the night until the opening minute of the third quarter when Ryan Evanochko, who led all scorers with 23 points, dropped a putback to give the Cougars a 27-26 edge.
In addition to Evanochko and Lodovico, Joe Powell (11 points) scored in double figures for Blackhawk. Moon got 12 points from Derek Compo, 11 from Duane Compo and 10 from Michael Knight.
After Moon tied the game at 29, Blackhawk launched an 11-2 run to take the lead to stay.
But the Tigers didn't give up. Instead, they chipped away at the lead, closing Blackhawk's lead to two points twice in the fourth quarter.
Both times, the Cougars answered back.
"We were determined not to cave in and we didn't," Miller said. "We withstood a lot of charges."
The first, on a three-pointer by Marc Lodovico with 4:55 remaining was a backbreaker, Ackerman said.
"If he misses that shot, it's a two-point game and we have the ball."
Lodovico scored 16 points.