Early lead helps Westminster roll
By Bill Albright
NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. — Heading into their Presidents’ Athletic Conference meeting Wednesday night, the Westminster and Thiel men’s basketball teams had combined for just three wins this season.
The Titans, though, bolted out to an early lead and went on to an 80-63 win.
“Although our record doesn’t indicate it, our guys have played some good basketball this year,” said Titan coach Larry Ondako. “Tonight they came out focused and ready to go. We had somewhat of a letdown down at Waynesburg, and I told them they must think because they win one game that is going to make them 12-12. Our record is never going to look pretty at the end of the year so we have to take it as it is.”
Although the Titans (3-12, 3-2) only have three wins, they are all in the conference.
“Now that we are in conference, we get to play Saturday for a share of the lead,” said Ondako. “That is what we wanted to do. We talked right in the beginning as we started playing games that coming out of our injuries, the last thing we needed to be doing at that time was playing games.
“We had a lot of young kids out there and we knew we were going to struggle, but those kids are coming along nicely and that is partly due to the lumps we took at the beginning of the year. We want to win the league which is a two or three month grind and come Saturday, we are right where we want to be.”
The Titans came out of the chute strong as they built up a 12-point lead in the opening seven minutes before leading by as many as 17.
The Tomcats (1-13, 0-5) went on an 8-2 run to close the half down 34-23.
“We were able to cut it down to nine at one point, but they hit a couple of 3s and we couldn’t get out of it,” said Thiel coach Tim Loomis. “We have been taking care of things pretty well in our last couple of games, but tonight wasn’t one of those nights.”
One negative for the Tomcats was in the turnover department where they made 22 miscues.
“When you don’t take care of the basketball, it makes it tough to win basketball games,” said Loomis. “Those are our big problem areas. Possessions and not being able to take care of the basketball. Why? Who knows, because college ball players are supposed to be able to take care of the basketball.”
The Titans ripped off a 10-0 run in the first two minutes of the second half to lead by 19.
Leading the Titans was freshman Mike Pratkanis, who came off the Titan bench to throw down 17 points.
Steve Bielich added 16 points and David Richards (New Castle) had 11 points, five assists and three steals.
For Thiel, Brandon Mirizio (Kennedy Catholic) came off the bench to score 16 points and Sean Devinney added 11.