Blackmon’s solid start (9 points in first quarter) ignites Girard to tourney win over Mooney
By Tom Williams
At this time of year, every senior basketball player is well aware that the next game could be the last of a varsity career.
Girard’s David Blackmon was inspired on Tuesday to make sure the Indians’ first tournament game would not be his final time on the court. Blackmon scored nine of his 16 points early as the Indians jumped on Cardinal Mooney for 19 first-quarter points in a 57-49 victory.
The Division II sectional win advances the Indians (12-11) to Friday’s game at Howland.
Blackmon said he tried not to focus on a bad outcome.
“I just was inspired for my team to play another game,” said Blackmon, who made four of his seven rebounds in the opening quarter.
“David is good when he gets downhill,” Girard coach Craig Hannon said. “When he gets to the rim, he’s really hard to stop. He’s strong, he’s athletic. And he got us going early.
“He’s a senior and he doesn’t want to play his last game.”
The Indians’ biggest lead of the first half was 29-21. Then the Cardinals (5-17) closed the second quarter with hope as Johnnie Mikos and Pete Haas hit 3-pointers.
“We could never get rid of them so we just had to keep fighting, keep scoring, keep playing defense,” Blackmon said of the pesky Cardinals.
Mooney coach Carey Palermo said: “We give great effort, we’re never going to quit.”
But the Indians sizzled to start the second half, posting an 11-2 run for a 40-29 lead. Austin O’Hara made a basket and two free throws, Austin Clausell made a basket and a free throw, and Blackmon and Mark Waid contributed baskets.
Still, the Cardinals wouldn’t quit.
With 2:21 remaining, the Cardinals trailed just 49-45 after Anthony Fire scored a basket and Mikos made a free throw.
“They never quit,” Hannon said. “Defensively, we followed a good gameplan to a T. They were locked in and ready to roll.”
The Indians’ start was an issue.
“We’re always going to battle and I’m proud of them for that. But we can’t afford to give up 19 points in the first quarter.
“Offensively, the first quarter, the first half, I don’t think we were terrible, but [allowing] 29 points is a lot for us,” Palermo said.
“[Fifty-seven] is entirely too many. We felt we could hold them in the lower 40s, mid-40s.”
Down the stretch, the Indians were unstoppable. After Christian Graziano made two free throws, Claussell scored a basket. Four more free throws sealed the win and set up a rematch with Howland.
Asked how the first game went against the Tigers, Hannon said, “Not great. We’ve got work to do. They are good, they’re big, they’re physical, they’ve got a lot of seniors.
“But it’s a different season and I think we will focus in and be ready to go.”
Blackmon scored 16 points while Claussell and Waid each netted 11.
For the Cardinals, Haas scored 20 points and made five 3-pointers while Fire scored 12.
Mooney loses three seniors to graduation — Jacob Simon, Jordan Stanford and Vinny Gentile.
“All three of those guys, they are leaders, whether by example or vocal leaders,” Palermo said. “Super kids — all three are great in the classroom.
“They all made huge contributions to the program,” Palermo said. “They went throw a coaching change two years ago when Coach [Brian] Danilov decided to take a break.
“They easily could have pouted and what-not, but they’ve given me everything they’ve had.”