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Warren JFK holds off Cardinal Mooney 71-59

Nick Ryan scores 25 points to fuel Eagles’ victory

Staff photo / Brian Yauger. Cardinal Mooney’s Eddie Nieves (1) goes up for a shot while being defended by JFK’s Christian Swogger (5) and Jaden Rishel (35) on Tuesday night.

YOUNGSTOWN — A tournament game in early December doesn’t come around often, but Warren JFK and Cardinal Mooney got exactly that in their early-season showdown.

Each team traded its best chances throughout the game, but by the end Kennedy had pulled away, downing the Cardinals 71-59.

With the tournament atmosphere, came a feisty, competitive game. Eagles coach Mark Komlanc mentioned that the chippiness that spawned from the two heavyweights duking it out, actually helped settle his team down.

“I actually think the chippiness as it went on, helped us, and kind of relaxed us, as dumb as it sounds,” Komlanc said. “I think it relaxed us because it became just basketball at that point, instead of like, trying to figure out where they need to be on this play or that play. For about a six-minute stretch, we just played basketball, really good basketball, and that’s all it took. … As weird as it sounds, I think that actually helped open up the floodgates.”

With 3:30 left in the game, Nico Ciminero hit the exclamation point to those opened floodgates, draining three to extend the Eagles’ lead to 10, which was Kennedy’s largest lead of the game up to that point.

Ciminero finished with 10 points, five of which came in that final quarter.

Leading the Eagles was Nick Ryan, who scored a game-high 25 points. Michael Condoleon scored 20 and Jaden Rishel added 14.

This is Year 4 for the Eagles’ core. It’s do or die for the group of Ryan, Condoleon, Ciminero, and Rishel. This season, they’re out to prove themselves.

“I think just realizing that this is the final set for their career in high school, so they kind of have to be a little bit more locked in,” Komlanc said. “Locked in, in drills, and locked in on what we’re trying to do. That’s what the message during the timeouts and at halftime was about being focused on each other and not individual plays. They were locked in on playing together in every aspect of the game. And that’s where we won the game.”

While happy about the win, no one wants to walk off the court with a loss. The result of the game isn’t what Kennedy (2-0) was worried about.

Wins are great, but a process that creates sustainable wins is even better. It’s only December, so the Eagles are more focused on continual growth.

“Obviously, you don’t want to lose, but it doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t pay off later on,” Komlanc said. “We attacked this game like it’s a tournament game, and they had a tournament atmosphere. They played like it was a tournament game, a little scared at first feeling it out, and then after they took a few punches, they figured out how to attack it and they did that.

“For an early-season game, it’s great, but it doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t translate at all. That’s our goal. That’s the message in the locker room. This means nothing if it doesn’t translate to tomorrow and the next day.”

Mooney drops to 1-1 on the season.

While sharing a similar philosophy in regards to early-season games, Cardinals coach Carey Palermo noticed some sloppiness, primarily on the defensive side of the ball, that he’s hoping is not a mainstay for the team.

“Defensively I thought we were very undisciplined, and you can’t be against a team like that,” Palermo said. “I thought (Nick) Ryan just annihilated us on the glass and in transition and (Michael) Condoleon knew how to pick his spots and if you give those guys an inch, they don’t miss.

“If you literally make one mistake on them, they know how to play with numbers, they always make the extra pass, they always play together. I felt that we didn’t do that (Tuesday). I think we forced a lot of turnovers, but I don’t think we converted a lot out of it.”

Things don’t get easier for Mooney as they host Austintown Fitch on Friday, while Kennedy plays Lowellville on Friday.

byauger@tribtoday.com

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