Wildcats surge to oust Cardinals
Struthers Mooney girls basketball.
Brown, McDowell lead Struthers to date at district
By Dan Hiner
Struthers girls basketball coach John Grandy felt his team needed a “pep talk” at halftime of Thursday’s Division II sectional final against Cardinal Mooney.
Senior Khaylah Brown and junior Trinity McDowell heard him loud and clear.
McDowell finished with a game-high 16 points and 15 rebounds in the Wildcats’ 47-35 win over the Cardinals. Brown scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
“Well, at halftime we had a real big pep talk,” McDowell said. “We had to focus on mindset and play as hard as we could. Our coach motivated us to push harder.”
The Struthers duo were the only two players from either team to score more than seven points.
The Cardinals (14-9) hit a few 3-pointers to keep the score close in the first half and went into the locker room trailing 22-19. Grandy said the Cardinals usually play man-to-man defense, but Mooney came out in a zone and the Wildcats weren’t prepared.
Struthers (20-3) went on a 14-3 run in the first nine minutes of the third quarter and began to pull away. McDowell scored 13 points in the second half — she scored eight points in the third quarter to help fuel the Struthers run.
“I asked the girls to play hard,” Grandy said. “Play hard, play physical and let the chips fall where the may.”
Cardinal Mooney’s defense could stop McDowell when she began hitting her hook shot. The Struthers forward said she needed to put up a couple before she started getting into a groove.
“Down low, it’s kinda hard to get the right shot,” McDowell said. “You just gotta pray for the best and go up.”
Cardinal Mooney trimmed the lead to 38-32 with 4:47 remaining, but turnovers and offensive rebounds prevented a comeback.
“They’re a really good team, and I think their size kinda wore us down a little bit in the third quarter,” Cardinal Mooney head coach Jason Baker said. “Our kids kept fighting. And to claw it back to six in the middle of the fourth quarter, it really shows a lot of character out of our kids.
“We knew we were going up against a really good team tonight, a really good coach and a really good program. We just battled the whole time and I’m really proud of our girls.”
Lauren Frommelt led Cardinal Mooney with seven points and three rebounds. Frommelt also had two steals and a blocked shot. Conchetta Rinaldi scored six points and grabbed four reboundss.
The Wildcats will play Howland in the district semifinal game at Austintown Fitch High School on Monday. Struthers beat Howland 54-43 at home on Dec. 9.
“I thought our girls played really well against them the first time,” Grandy said. “I’m sure they got better, but we got better, too. It’s gonna be a good one. We’re glad to be going back to districts. We’re gonna play hard.
“I just think it’s gonna be a battle.”