Mooney deals Harding first loss in SVC, 60-55
The Cardinals prevented the Raiders from clinching a tie for the SVC championship.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Warren Harding's 10-game winning streak -- Gone.
Ten straight wins against Mooney. Undefeated league record. The chance to end the suspense in the Steel Valley Conference.
Gone. Gone. Gone.
Illness sapped them, and Mooney "whapped" them as the Raiders fell, 60-55, Tuesday night in basketball action at Mooney High School.
"They did a lot of great individual things, but I thought we did a lot of great team things," Cardinals coach Nick Bellino said. "To beat them, we had to be a team."
Harding (14-3, 5-1), which holds a half-game lead over Fitch in the SVC standings, can still win the league outright with wins at Boardman and Fitch.
Cardinals senior Curtis Ingram was typically brilliant, scoring a game-high 21 points to pass 1,000 points for his career.
But it was also guys like Jeff Hehr, David Zidian, Ron Stoops and Jonathan Freaney who played a major role in the Cardinals' second-half surge.
"This was just a team effort," said Hehr, who had 16 points. "The fans were great and it's been hard for teams to play here. They made it loud when they had to."
Mooney struggled offensively in the first half, but the Cardinals' defense kept them close. Then, with Harding holding a 25-21 lead in the opening minutes of the third quarter, Mooney turned the game around.
The Cardinals, led by six points from Hehr, finished the quarter with an 18-6 run to take a 39-31 lead entering the fourth.
Mooney took its biggest lead, 51-37, with 4:30 left. Harding answered with an 18-6 run that cut the deficit to 57-55 with 45 seconds left.
But the Raiders were forced to foul, and could get no closer.
"We allowed them to stay close in the first half and gain confidence and that became the ball game in the second half," Harding coach Steve Arnold said. "I hope this teaches all of us something."
Zidian had nine points and 10 rebounds and Stoops added six points, three rebounds and two assists for the Cardinals (13-3, 3-3).
Danny Stella had 15 points and seven rebounds for Harding (14-3, 5-1) and Mike Phillips added 12 points, five rebounds and four assists. Josh Johnson had 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Harding senior Jonte' Stroud and sophomore Mario Manningham both missed the game due to illness, but Arnold said it shouldn't have mattered.
"That's no excuse," he said. "We had opportunities to win the game and we didn't."
None of those opportunities came at the foul line. Harding was just one of one from the line, while Mooney hit 14 of 19 -- including nine of 13 in the fourth quarter.
At one point in the fourth quarter, Harding had been called for 10 more fouls (13-3) than Mooney.
"I have no comment about that," Arnold said. "We're an aggressive basketball team and for us to only shoot only one free throw, I'll let you do the math."