Defenses dominate as Mooney tops Irish
There were turnovers and missed shots galore but the Cardinals prevailed, 39-32.
By JOHN KOVACH
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- There are two ways you can look at the Cardinal Mooney-Ursuline girls high school basketball game Thursday night at the Cardinals' gym.
You can view the Steel Valley Conference opener for both teams as a very strong defensive battle with outstanding defensive performances by both teams hat resulted in numerous turnovers and missed shots.
Or you can interpret it as a sloppily-played game with both teams having difficulty taking care of the ball and bringing it down the floor, and then being able to shoot only about 27 percent from the field.
Coach Jack Bermann is reserving judgment on both perspectives until watching the game film, but he is very glad that his Cardinals surged down the stretch from the foul line to emerge with a 39-32 victory over the defending-champion Irish for their sixth straight win.
"The defenses were very strong," said Bermann, especially conceding that Ursuline's aggressive defense was a big factor in Mooney's meager 16-for-59 shooting from the floor.
"The 16-for-59 is our lowest shooting percentage of the season, without a doubt. We have had bad shooting games, but not as bad as this."
Guyer, Pelini deliver
But Laura Guyer and Sarah Pelini delivered the points when they counted at crunch time to seal the win for Mooney (7-2, 1-0 Steel Valley Conference), which had lost both games against Ursuline last year as the Irish swept the SVC championship.
Pelini, who scored four of her six points in the last quarter, hit her last goal to give the Cardinals a 34-30 lead and provide the eventual margin of victory. Guyer followed with 5-for-6 from the foul line to seal the verdict.
Guyer finished with a game-high 11 points while Dayna Daltorio added seven points and eight rebounds to pace Mooney's attack. Katie Griswold had four assists.
Bermann said that when it came down to the wire, Guyer was able to deliver from the foul line for Mooney.
"Guyer was 5-for-6. She was the one who kept us in the lead," said Bermann, whose Irish finished 7-for-11 from the line while Ursuline was only 3-for-9.
"We had moments when we had good shooting nights from the foul line and nights when we shot 50 percent. But tonight we made them down the stretch when we had to."
Mooney's defense sparkles
Meanwhile, Mooney also stepped up on defense.
"Our defense was a team effort," Bermann said. "Whichever player had the [chance] made the stops."
And the Cardinals' defense helped to cause Ursuline's 14-for-52 shooting from the field, although Tim'Aira Grandy and Danielle Crafter both sparkled with eight points each to pace the Irish and keep them in the game.
Crafter scored six of her eight points in the second half and she also had 12 rebounds to lead the Irish to a 40-32 advantage off the boards, while Mary Alexander added seven points and Katelyn Tondo-Steel three assists.
Grandy scored four of her points in the waning minutes to keep Ursuline within striking distance. Her back-to-back goals pulled the Irish within 32-30, before Pelini countered to create Mooney's four-point lead that was padded by Guyer's free throws.
Coach Sean Durkin of Ursuline (4-6, 0-1) said his team had too many turnovers and missed shots.
"Turnovers ruined us at the end. [Mooney] had way too many possessions," said Durkin, noting that his team struggled to move the ball down the floor.
"We couldn't even get a shot off [at times]. We couldn't get the ball down the court. We didn't execute our press-break [on offense]. That has been a concern of ours."
And even when Ursuline got shots, they failed to capitalize.
"We were shooting real poorly and missing also when we were penetrating. We missed a lot of free throws and layups," Durkin said.