Dan Jones had 23 points as the Red Dragons pulled the upset.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
BOARDMAN -- Dan Jones picked a good night to be good, and Mooney picked a bad night to be bad.
The combination led to the biggest upset of this year's Division II tournament, as Niles shocked second-seeded Mooney, 64-50, in Saturday's sectional final at Boardman High School.
"We just didn't seem to have it tonight," Mooney coach Nick Bellino said.
"We've been very fortunate this season in that we hadn't had to suffer through a game like we did tonight."
Remember the name
Jones, the Niles standout junior guard that has gone almost unnoticed this season, had 23 points, six assists and five rebounds for the Red Dragons (10-12), who advanced to play Liberty. The Leopards defeated Hubbard 52-32 in the nightcap.
"He's a special kid," Niles coach Ron Price said of Jones. "He's been scoring in the 20s, but he hasn't done much in the first half. We told him we needed him to be more aggressive."
He got the message. Jones had 11 first-half points as Niles took a 29-21 halftime lead. Mooney cut its deficit to 42-35 in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, but could get no closer.
"We never thought we'd win by this much," Price said. "We figured it would be a war.
"When they cut it to seven, I looked up at the scoreboard and said, 'Let's bump it up to double digits.' Let's be a little greedy."
Free throws count
The Red Dragons made 11 of 12 free throws in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
Vince Gatta added 16 points and Tim Rupert had 12 for Niles, which lost to Poland in last year's district final.
Senior Curtis Ingram scored 22 points and added eight rebounds and four steals for Mooney (16-5). David Zidian added 14 points and seven rebounds and Ron Stoops had 12 points.
"We struggled offensively and I guess it was just one of those nights," Bellino said. "We picked a bad time to play bad."