By Joe Catullo Jr.
Despite a huge margin against Cardinal Mooney on Friday night, Ursuline coach Keith Gunther left his leader, Ryan Strollo, in the game to make history.
The four-year starter did not disappoint, hitting his 1,000th career point on a 3-pointer with 3:19 remaining in the game. The place erupted, and the players ran on the court as if they won a state title.
Strollo stood in front of halfcourt near his bench and called upon his parents, Ron and Nicole Strollo, to help commemorate the moment. Even Gunther urged the Strollos to join their son.
“They got me into basketball,” Ryan Strollo said. “They did everything I could have ever asked for basketball. They’re just my role models in life, so that was a moment I wanted to share with them for sure.”
Holding the basketball, Ron Strollo almost could not hold back his emotions and didn’t think he would be on the court. He also said the credit goes to his wife for always being at practice and supporting their son every day.
“We’re just thrilled for him,” Nicole Strollo said. “He’s been playing basketball since he could walk, so we’re just excited for him.”
Ryan Strollo, recognized with seven others during Ursuline’s senior night, finished with 27 points — including seven 3-pointers — during a 71-39 rout in the Holy War.
“It always makes it special when you can win a game against your rival,” Gunther said. “It’s a good rivalry, but we always want to win that one over anything. I think it also makes it special for senior night.
“That was the last time they get to play Mooney, so they wanted that opportunity to go out and get that win.”
Ryan Strollo gave his Irish (9-8, 4-0) a boost with nine points in a 27-point first quarter while Mooney (7-10) scored eight.
“The first quarter kind of opened up the game for us,” Gunther said.
The Cardinals, though, gave Ursuline a scare with a 6-0 scoring run to open the third quarter, cutting the deficit to 12. But seven turnovers in the quarter killed the momentum. They finished with 26 turnovers.
“We’ve got to quit digging a hole for ourselves,” said Cardinal Mooney coach Brian Danilov.
“We’ve done it numerous times. Me and my staff have to sit down and try to figure out a different approach. We just seemed a step slower than them. I’ve got to figure out what’s going to get us to where we need to be.”
With four games left on the plate, Ryan Strollo is focused on finishing out the season and not what college he may attend, though he said Youngstown State a possibility.
“Next year, we won’t have Ryan, and it’s going to be a really, really tough position for us,” Gunther said. “I don’t know if we’ll be able to fill it, but it’s been a joy to have him for four years. It’s going to be hard at some point to not have a part of your program. Nobody deserves it more.”