Keith Gunther’s Ursuline Fighting Irish played a good basketball team on Tuesday.
“Very good,” Gunther said. “Phenomenal, really.”
Division I Massillon Perry came to the Lyden Family Court and dominated Ursuline, 68-44.
The Panthers jumped out to a 14-0 lead just three minutes into the first quarter. The Irish didn’t score their first points until the 4:12 mark .
“They were going to attack us right off the bat,” Gunther said. “If we were timid they were going to get right up on us and force turnovers. That’s exactly what they did.”
Ursuline (0-2) committed 22 turnovers. Seven came in the first quarter. Star senior guard Jeremiah Jackson had five steals.
“We expected it,” Irish forward Ryan Strollo said of the intense defensive pressure. “We were kind of psyched out and we just needed to calm down. We weren’t executing right.”
Perry (2-0), the reigning Federal League co-champion, went 13-9 last year and is projected to be even better this season.
Jackson, who averaged 18.8 points in 2011-12, finished with 20 points, Cole Piatka added 17 and Brock Weston and Drew Tomasi each had nine.
“They got transition buckets,” Gunther said. “Even when we got down and played half-court man-to-man, they were smart enough to throw seven, eight or nine passes to get the look that they wanted to. They have phenomenal players.”
Strollo led Ursuline with 18 points. The senior nailed four 3-pointers. Desmond McElroy added 13 and Preston Williams had eight.
The Irish forced many bad shots and couldn’t find an offensive rhythm.
“Coaches talk about that all the time,” Strollo said. “On the bench and after in the locker room. Perry is solid and that’s exactly the kind of offense we want to run. We just have to get focused and do what we were taught.”
The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Irish. Two of their next three games are against Div.ision I opponents (Bedford and Massillon Washington). They also play Sharon (PA) and take part in an East Liverpool holiday tournament in December.
“I wanted to test a little bit to see where we were athletically and competitively,” Gunther said.
Saturday, Ursuline faces LaBrae in the Hope Foundation tournament in Struthers.
“We’re not going to see teams like Perry in the playoffs,” Strollo said. “LaBrae is in our division and we’re excited to see them early because we might see them in the playoffs.
“We have a full season of games against tough teams to prepare us for the tournament.”