By John Bassetti
While Girard’s players applied pressure on the court in their game against Springfield, Indians coach Craig Hannon felt pressure himself as the son of the organizer of the United Way Holiday Basketball Classic at Poland on Saturday.
“We didn’t want to come here to lose,” Hannon said after Girard beat Springfield, 63-52. “I always say that the site games are a reward for the kids because they can go out and have fun. I’m just glad we came out on top.”
As United Way president Bob Hannon tried to catch moments of his son’s game while tending to the business of monitoring the day’s four-game Classic, Craig Hannon’s gang was taking care of business over four quarters.
After taking a 14-10 first-period lead, Girard (4-2) outscored Springfield, 23-2, en route to securing its third win this week.
“We talked about ball pressure and putting a lot of pressure on them [Springfield] to speed the game up and I thought we executed that pretty well, especially in those middle quarters,” coach Hannon said.
Girard’s Dylan O’Hara had a career-best 27 points, while Jimmy and Evan Standohar had 15 and 10, respectively.
“My teammates do a good job of finding me and I knocked down the shots,” O’Hara, a 6-2 junior, said.
His previous high was 23 — attained on Tuesday against Maplewood.
“We’re pretty disruptive and we play well as a team,” O’Hara said. “Our energy was a key, even though it was our third game this week. I think we came out with a lot of energy and that’s how we got our big lead.”
The Indians defeated Jefferson Area on Friday night.
“We like to switch it up, just to keep people off balance,” Craig Hannon said. “Because we’re not very big, we’re just looking to apply a lot of pressure. The slower the game goes, the worse off it gets for us, so we’re just trying to speed up the game with the defenses we play.”
Still, Girard’s staple is man-to-man defense.
“We still want to get better at man-to-man,” Hannon said. “We still have to guard people and man-to-man is what wins games. But we still want to apply ball pressured and I have the athletes to do that.”
The Standohars were the nucleus of the pressure, especially Jimmy’s tips and taps against Springfield ballhanders.
“Evan and Jimmy have been leaders for us and we feed off of them,” Hannon said, “but when Dylan’s shooting the ball like that, he’s hard to guard because you’ve always got to have a body on him. He works hard at his jump shots, so, to me, it’s sensible to let him deliver.”
Graham Mincher had a team-high 20 points for Springfield (3-2).
“We didn’t come out with a lot of energy,” coach Eric Fender said of his Tigers. “For whatever reason, whether it was timidity, whether it was a bigger stage, a bigger court, playing Girard — a school that’s given us problems at times — we just didn’t execute very well and didn’t come out with a lot of energy and I definitely think that’s what really changed the game.”
Fender explained that the second half was a different story for his Tigers, who then outscored the Indians, 34-28.
“Our effort kicked up in the second half, but, I told our guys, we’ve got to play a whole game. You can’t expect to win playing just a half of basketball.”
He said inexperience is part of the problem.
“We’ve got to figure things out, like we did in the second half,” Fender said of when his team beat Girard’s halfcourt trap and got the ball low for easy points.”
Springfield’s other loss was to Lowellville in a season-opener.
The United Way Classic’s second game of the day was West Middlesex’s 50-48 win over Erie Strong Vincent.