Tony Brunetti's last second 3-pointer lifted the Cardinals past East Palestine.
SALEM -- It's been a tough season for the Mooney High boys basketball team. Combine a tough schedule with a very young roster and it doesn't add up to many wins.
But when the Cardinals needed a win the most, one of those young players delivered.
With the score tied at 62 and 10 seconds remaining, Cardinals coach Scott Groves called a timeout. The play he drew up for the final shot didn't go exactly the way he planned it, but he'll take the result.
Sophomore Tony Brunetti drilled the game-winning 3-pointer from near the top of the key with two seconds to go, lifting Mooney to a 65-62 victory over East Palestine in the first round of the Division III sectional tournament Wednesday night.
"He is the best pure shooter on our team, so even though he didn't have one of his best games tonight, we wanted him to take the last shot," said Groves. "He was supposed to inbound the ball and step right inbounds for the 3-pointer. But he curled around the other side and hit the shot. That's a big shot for a sophomore to hit."
The clutch shot was just Brunetti's second field goal of the game and his seventh point.
Early in the final quarter, it didn't look like the outcome would be decided by the final possession. East Palestine's Brett Young gave his squad a 53-49 lead with 7:13 to go after completing a three-point play.
Mooney climbed back in with a 7-0 outburst in just over a minute, taking a 56-53 lead on an L.J. Sutton basket.
The Cards built a 62-56 advantage with 2:45 remaining. But East Palestine's Jake Harvey hit a 3-pointer and Young canned two free throws to trim the deficit to 62-61 at the 1:19 mark.
Joe Thompson knotted the score at 62 on a free throw with 22 seconds remaining.
That's when Mooney set up, and executed, the final play.
"I don't think we played anywhere near our capability tonight; it was ugly," said Groves. "But in the last three minutes of the game we relaxed, took some good shots and I think that was the difference in the game.
"Being so young, I think we had the jitters a little bit. It was good for us to get that big-game experience and I think the kids will be excited to get a third shot at Ursuline. I don't think I'll have to give any kind of pep talk for that one."
Mooney will face top-seeded Ursuline Friday at 8 p.m., with the winner earning a spot in the district semifinals.
Waterloo 53, Lisbon 33
Waterloo's 2-3 zone stymied Lisbon's perimeter shooters, as the Blue Devils shot just 27 percent against the third-seeded Vikings.
Lisbon shot 4-of-15 in the first half and was outscored 11-3 in the second quarter, and never recovered as Waterloo built a 20-9 lead.
"It's very hard to explain," said Lisbon coach Matt Cashdollar. "I thought we were loose and relaxed but the shots weren't dropping. We got frustrated when we couldn't make some easy shots and we got in foul trouble.
"It's disappointing because we are a lot better team than we showed tonight. It's hard to end the season like this. Waterloo outhustled us in the first half and we just got frustrated."
Lisbon guard Marcus Judy had one of his worst shooting nights of the season, hitting just 2-of-15 shots for eight points.
In the second half, the Blue Devils attempted to beat the zone defense with a three-guard offense working the ball around to get quick open looks before the defense could get set. But when they did manage to find open shots, they wouldn't fall.
To make matters worse, Lisbon got into foul trouble early and Waterloo took advantage. The Vikings converted 22-of-29 free throws, including a 13-of-16 effort by Eric Schiele. The junior scored a game-high 32 points.
The Vikings move on to a district semifinal next Tuesday against the winner of Friday's United-Rootstown game.