Eagles put four players in double figures in a rout over Cardinal Mooney.
WARREN - The outcome of the last games that the Cardinal Mooney and John F. Kennedy High boys basketball teams played prior to their matchup Friday night could not have been more different.
The Cardinals overcame a 14-point halftime deficit on Tuesday to defeat Beaver Local in overtime; the Eagles took a 76-39 beating from sixth-ranked cross town rival Warren G. Harding last Friday.
Although any coach hates to lose, JFK coach Shawn Pompelia figures if you lose, you had better learn something from it.
The Eagles apparently learned a lot as they handled Mooney's press in a 74-43 Steel Valley Conference victory Friday night.
Cruising by half
"People say, 'What do you learn from a loss?' " said Pompelia. "If you don't learn something from a loss you're kidding yourself.
"What we took away from the Harding game was as many positives as possible. And one of the things we learned about this team was that once we would break a press, we were rushing to score rather than settle in, work our offense and be patient to get a good shot. Our patience created great opportunities on the offensive end for us. "
The Eagles (6-4, 1-1) easily dismantled the Cardinals' press and man-to-man defense in the first quarter, scoring most of their baskets from inside the paint. When Mooney (2-9, 0-2) went to a zone defense in the second quarter, JFK took advantage with back-to-back 3s from juniors Mark Rossi and Stephon Flanagan that boosted its lead to 23-10 less than a minute into the period.
JFK put four players in double figures, led by Flanagan with a game-high 23 points. Sophomore point guard J.J. Townsend added 16 and had eight rebounds. Rossi and Anthony Elzy contributed 11 and 10 points, respectively. Elzy also grabbed 10 boards and Mario Chicchillo pulled down eight.
"J.J. Townsend played outstanding at the point," said Pompelia. "Stephon has been steady for us. He's leading the Steel Valley in scoring and Chicchillo and Elzy, they're both 6-foot-1 and they stepped up huge, H-U-G-E. It was unbelievable what they did on the boards."
Youth no excuse
The Eagles led the rebounding battle 39-22, but held a 20-4 edge at halftime.
While first-year Mooney coach Scott Groves has been dealing with a young, inexperienced team all year, he said at some point that has to stop being an excuse.
"We just didn't match Kennedy's intensity," Groves said. "As good as we played in our last game against Beaver Local, we just had no heart, no passion tonight. And X's and O's don't matter. By the midpoint in the season you should be playing with some consistency and we're not. And you can't always blame that on youth."
The Cardinals' only senior, Jaron Howell, led the team with 14 points.