Titans swept by Cougars in non-conference tilt
Trailing by just one point heading into the final eight minutes of play Saturday afternoon at Coal Ridge High School in New Castle, the Titans’ boys basketball team came apart in the fourth quarter against the visiting Resurrection Christian Cougars, getting outscored 20-6 in the final quarter of play to drop a 69-54 decision in a non-conference matchup against the 10th-ranked Cougars in 3A.
After falling behind by 11 points following one quarter of action, thanks to six 3-pointers from the Cougars, the Titans showed some serious poise following a tough first quarter of play. They stormed back within one point late in the second half behind an offensive outburst from senior guard Brandon Herrera, who poured in 8 quick points to jump-start the Titans, including two deep 3-pointers early in the second quarter.
“They didn’t panic, and that’s what I was proud of,” Coal Ridge Head Coach Paul Harvey said. “I kept telling them to trust in what we do, and we hoped that we would keep attacking the hoop. They battled and they scraped and gave it everything they had.”
As Herrera heated up offensively to start the second quarter, the Titans found their footing at both ends of the floor, clawing back to within one point at 33-32 before Resurrection Christian closed the half on a 5-0 run to head into the half nursing a 38-32 lead.
Coming out of the half, Coal Ridge caught fire again offensively as the Titans went on a 10-0 run sparked by some great defense from senior Brody Morgan and junior Kevin DiMarco. The two combined for 8 points in the run, giving the Titans a 42-40 lead midway through the third quarter and swinging momentum heavily in the Titans’ favor. However, the Titans had two consecutive shots to extend their lead, but missed both shots, allowing the Cougars to rally back at the end of the quarter and they held a 49-48 lead after three quarters of play.
“Those are situations where we have to come through to extend that lead,” Harvey said. “We’re trying to become an elite program and a great team, and great teams put teams away in situations like that.”
Following two straight solid quarters for the Titans at the offensive end, Coal Ridge couldn’t carry over the momentum into the pivotal final quarter of play as the Titans struggled to hit shots, allowing the Cougars to pull away for the 15-point win in a game that was much closer than the final score.
“I think we were looking for Brandon and Kevin too much and deferring to them offensively,” Harvey said. “Guys have got to step up. We’ve got some new guys in new spots, so they’re learning, but hats off to Resurrection. They hit their shots. We had some great looks at layups and free throws.”
In the loss, Herrera led the way with 19 points, while DiMarco added 10 points for the Titans.
Juniors Payton White and Jan Hernandez added 11 and 4 points, respectively.
Sitting at 5-2 on the season before the start of league play next week, the Titans are optimistic about the season ahead but know that work needs to be done.
“We’ve got to grow as a team and start to get these guys a little bit more comfortable and start contributing on the court,” Harvey said.
RESURRECTION CHRISTIAN 51, COAL RIDGE 38
In the first action back from winter break, the Coal Ridge Titans’ girls basketball team caught fire early in the first quarter of Saturday’s non-conference tilt against the Resurrection Christian Cougars, but couldn’t sustain the offensive success after the first eight minutes of play. The Titans tumbled down the stretch with missed shots and turnovers to drop a disappointing decision to the Cougars, 51-38.
Coal Ridge came out fast in the opening minutes as freshman center Taylor Wiescamp, junior Adriana Vargas and junior Sam Dunn hit their opening shots to stake the Rams to a quick 6-0 lead on the way to a 12-5 advantage after eight minutes of action, but the second quarter took a turn for the worse for the Titans as the Cougars — behind standout guard Juju Hemeyer — outscored Coal Ridge 21-9 in the second quarter of action to take a 26-21 lead at the half.
Hemeyer scored 14 of Resurrection Christian’s 21 points in the quarter, sparking a stagnant Cougar attack.
“They started pushing the ball up the court on us there in the second quarter,” Coal Ridge Head Coach Clyde Morgan said. “And then when [Hemeyer] came in, it really killed us mentally. When she came onto the floor, we played completely different. She’s good and it really hurt us.”
Following the difficult second quarter, Coal Ridge came out of the locker room for the start of the third quarter and traded baskets with the Cougars before Resurrection Christian was able to extend its lead to 10 points heading into the final quarter of play thanks to 8 points in the quarter from junior Mollie Peacock.
In the final quarter of play against the Cougars, Coal Ridge got a number of great looks at the basket but simply couldn’t finish with consistency, allowing the Cougars to pull away for the win.
With the loss, Coal Ridge falls to 3-5 on the season.
“We’ve got to get stronger mentally, because we’ve struggled the last few games,” Morgan said. “That’s hard for us to overcome when we take ourselves out of the game that way. I think that once we get that corrected, we’ll be able to put together some good games with this group.”