By greg gulas
In a game that featured 64 free throws, three ties, eight lead changes and four runs of nine points or better, it was Youngstown Christian’s last run midway through the final quarter that propelled them to victory over their south side rivals, Cardinal Mooney.
Daylen Williams scored a career-high 32 points and hauled in a game-high 11 rebounds as the Eagles defeated the Cardinals, 64-57, Friday night.
A quick glance at Williams’ stat line and his double-double becomes all the more impressive, given the fact that he scored just two points and was credited with just one rebound in the game’s opening session.
It was an opening that found three Youngstown Christian starters on the bench due to foul trouble and the Cardinals in the two shot bonus the final 8:49 of the half.
“They beat us at their place the first time we played and that was in the back of our minds,” Williams said. “We didn’t execute at either end of the court back then, but coach [Dolph] Carroll told us to work hard, play defense and good things would happen.
“We like to run and it’s our defense that sets up our offense. Give Cardinal Mooney credit, however, because they also played their hearts out. They’re a great rival and any time we get together it’s always going to be a good game.”
Four points by Nick Gonda helped Youngstown Christian to the early 5-3 advantage, but four points by Cardinal Mooney’s Andrew Armstrong keyed a 9-0 run by the Cardinals for a 14-5 lead heading to the second period of play.
A bucket by Joe Cunningham at the 4:27 mark of the second stanza increased the Cardinal Mooney (8-11) lead to 21-11, but a 12-0 run by Youngstown Christian (9-8), which included 10 of Williams’ 14 second period points, would help the Eagles pull to within 27-23 at halftime.
“The difference between the first time that we played and tonight is two months of growth. It’s our kids learning and believing in our system,” Carroll said. “This has always been and always will be Daylen’s team because he takes control in a very unselfish way. The key tonight though was our bench. With three starters sitting just three minutes into the game due to foul trouble, we survived because our bench weathered that storm. I just love how hard this team plays.”
A conventional three-point play by Williams a little over a minute into the third quarter helped the Eagles increase their lead to 30-27, but six points by Cardinal Mooney’s Doug Caputo helped the Cardinals on a 9-0 run that gave them a 38-34 lead with one period remaining.
“We should have done a better job tonight of finishing and converting, especially in the first half when we had the opportunity to do so. It was a hard fought game with both teams playing very physical,” Cardinal Mooney coach Brian Danilov said.