LaBrae dominates second half at Mooney
By Gary Housteau
A strong second-half performance by LaBrae led to Friday’s runaway 66-41 victory over Cardinal Mooney.
The Cardinals raced out to a 16-11 first-quarter lead before the Vikings were able to catch them. With 2:09 to go before intermission, the Vikings took their first lead.
“We were a little hesitant to start the game,” LaBrae head coach Chad Kiser said. “We thought they’d come out and play us man-to-man because most teams just play us zone.
“Against a 1-2-2, we settled for early 3s I thought in the first quarter and jacked them up a little quick instead of moving the ball and getting it inside-out,” Kiser said. “We kept it outside the whole possession.”
Junior Vinny Gentile got off to somewhat of a hot start for Mooney with five first-quarter points. Senior Pat Brennan also was active early for the Cardinals with five first-quarter hustle points of his own.
“We were giving up the big guy [Gentile] to let him shoot the first couple and he made a couple, so that’s what got them out and ready to go,” Kiser said. “But once we settled down and got the ball inside-out and got a couple of lay-ups, I think we got back on track.”
Mooney opened up an early 19-11 lead in the second quarter but that’s when LaBrae finally turned the momentum around.
“We had a good second quarter and I thought, in the second half, we came out and played really well,” Kiser said. “I think we were up five at the half [31-26] and we just stressed to come out and win the third quarter, try to stretch that out a little bit, that way they were going to have to guard us man to man.
“And I thought we had some nice match-ups for us to go man-to-man.”
LaBrae senior Tariq Drake gave the Vikings a quick boost after halftime, scoring the first eight points to start the third quarter.
“We really pushed the tempo in the second half,” Drake said. “We sped the game up a little bit, created some turnovers and got some easy buckets out of it.”
And then sophomore Tyler Stevens opened the floor up even more with 12 of his game-high 14 points after the intermission.
“He had a breakout game here, he did,” Kiser said. “He’s a sophomore, a nice player, he’s got the inside-outside game.
“He really increased his strength to play inside, he’s always had a really good shot, but I thought that was a big game for him tonight to stretch the floor and do a nice job for us coming off the bench.”
It was more frustration for Mooney head coach Carey Palermo as the Cardinals, led by junior Jordan Stanford with 12 points, fell to 3-7.
“Early in the game we executed,” Palermo said. “Early on I thought we had a pretty good flow.
“A lot of other guys were scoring and we were really sharing the ball,” Palermo said. “They tried pressuring us and it didn’t bother us early, we got lay-ups.”
LaBrae improved their mark to 10-0 on the season as Drake chipped in with 12 points, while senior Mike Eakins finished with 12 and junior Aaron Iler added 13 points and eight boards. Senior Carlton Brown added eight points and five rebounds.
Drake said he believes his team is capable of achieving great things going forward.
“Our expectations are really high,” he said. “And we’re just going to keep working hard in practice and play great basketball from here on out.”