Cougars look strong at holiday tournament
The winter storm that tore through western Pennsylvania last week gave residents chills thanks to snow, ice and wind.
But the unfavorable conditions didn't just leave the Carlynton boys basketball team cold – it left them freezing.
Coach Mike Kozy gave the team four days off for the holidays after suffering a 44-36 loss to South Side Beaver in Section 6-AA action on Dec. 21.
The team was supposed to practice the day before the Carlynton Holiday Tournament kicked off last Thursday but the snow led to it being cancelled.
The Cougars offense showed a lack of preparation and missed six free throws in the final minute of action but Carlynton held on for a 42-41 victory over South Allegheny.
“I would of loved to have had practice Wednesday,” Carlynton coach Mike Kozy said. “As I watched those missed free throws, all I thought was ‘boy, I would have loved to have had practice.'
“But we came though. It was nice to give the ‘we didn't play well but hung on speech' instead of the ‘we played well but didn't get the victory' speech. I have said that one too many times this year.”
Neither team was able to find any offensive momentum in the opening half. Carlynton led 6-4 after the first quarter but fell behind 18-15 heading into halftime.
The Gladiators' lead grew to seven early in the third frame before the Carlynton offense came alive. The Cougars used a 7-0 run that was capped off by a Mike Latimore 3-pointer to take a 29-27 lead. Carlynton took a 35-30 lead into the final quarter.
South Allegheny regained the lead early in the fourth quarter after a DaVonte Johnson layup and free throw.
After trading the lead twice, Seth Calorie went to the free-throw line for Carlynton with just over a minute to go and connected on a pair of free throws to give the home squad the 42-41 lead.
South Allegheny had two possessions in the final 20 seconds but the Cougars defense stepped up on both. The first possession was stopped by a block by Brad Wisniewski and the final possession saw Carlynton force the Gladiators to midcourt to take away any chance of a high percentage shot.
Latimore led the team with 14 points. Mason Follmer added 11.
The Cougars didn't find as much luck on night two as they fell to Serra Catholic, 56-47. Carlynton trailed by only five at the end of the first half but was outscored 14-5 in the second to go into halftime down 33-19.
The Cougars rallied in the third and cut the score to 42-40 but were unable to pull any closer.
Latimore led the Cougars with 17 points.
Kozy said while the holiday tournament is a fun event the new year will bring a new focus to the team. Carlynton is fifth in the Section 6-AA standings with a 1-2 mark.
The Cougars trail 2-0 Northgate and Sto-Rox and 2-1 Avonworth and South Side Beaver.
With games against the Flames and Vikings – along with Quaker Valley and Freedom – looming, Carlynton will look to make up some ground in the drive to the WPIAL postseason.
“The tournament is fun because we are home playing and we're off school,” Kozy said. “But when things resume Friday, things will have a different feel.
“We will have practices after the New Year and address some things. We will see what happens from there.”
The Cougars return to the court tomorrow, Friday, as they travel to Northgate. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-388-5813.