By Greg Gulas
Youngstown Christian coach Dolph Carroll recalls the day as if it were yesterday.
It was Feb. 8 and his Eagles had just been beaten rather handily by Brookfield, 54-39 to fall under the .500 mark at 7-8.
After some soul searching, Carroll held a team meeting before their next outing with Springfield Local, basically to discuss what was expected of each other the rest of the season.
Youngstown Christian hasn’t lost since.
Daylen Williams scored 25 points and Darien Townsend added 11 markers as the Eagles defeated Southern, 53-43, in a Division IV sectional final Friday night at the Struthers Fieldhouse.
They will now meet Mogadore, a 78-36 winner over Sebring in Friday night’s other game.
“We just lost so many close games so we went into our locker room the day before we played Springfield Local and met like young, mature Christian men,” Carroll said. “We didn’t challenge each other, instead just laid everything out on the table to discuss what we expected of each other.
“Everyone on this team has always accepted their roles; however, like a climate survey they just needed to hear it once again from each other. These kids never quit, have always played hard and you saw that effort once again tonight. Southern spread us out and it took some time to make the necessary adjustments.”
At a pace more familiar to a track meet than a basketball game, the Indians raced to the early 15-11 advantage behind Kyler Woodward’s six points.
Williams then scored eight of his game-high 25 points in the second frame to give Youngstown Christian a 26-25 halftime advantage. The Eagles stayed in front the rest of the way.
“Coach Carroll always tells me to finish when I can so when the opportunity is there, I try to take advantage of the situation,” Williams said.
Youngstown Christian (13-8) used a 20-3 run after intermission to bust the game open, taking a 44-30 lead into the final frame.
“Our game plan was to play hard, press, trap and then get back on defense,” Townsend said. “ We knew that Southern also played hard, was physical and liked to run so we had to guard against that as well.”
Southern’s Luke Griffith added eight of his team-high 15 points in the final quarter.
“Youngstown Christian is a nice team; deep and very athletic which is something we don’t see in our league over the course of the season,” Indians coach George Whittaker said. “Tonight was a very physical game and I was proud of our overall effort. “We have four seniors on our team and these four seniors are the winningest seniors in program history. They did a tremendous job for us.”
Southern ended its season 16-6. Youngstown Christian halted the Indians’ modest three-game win streak.
Hunter Van Camp scored 15 points and Austin Mahoney added 11 to lead Mogadore (19-4) over Sebring (6-18).
Dylan Mick had a team-high 11 points for the Trojans.