Kittanning boys move to 10-0 with win over Ford City
Kittanning started out the new year the same way it closed out the old year — winning games.
The Wildcats moved to 10-0 with a 65-48 road win over rival Ford City (2-8) on Wednesday night before a large crowd at Red Mihalik Gym.
Sterling Henry scored 21 points, and Alek Schaffer added 18 to lead Kittanning to the nonsection victory in a rivalry that dates to Feb. 10, 1910.
A 25-2 surge by the Wildcats in the third quarter broke open what had been a close game.
Kittanning took a 10-0 lead to start the game, but Ford City cut the deficit to 16-15 midway through the second quarter, even though the Wildcats held the Sabers to three first-half field goals.
“I thought we actually played pretty good defense in the first half,” Kittanning coach Bill Henry said. “Our problem in the first half was we just couldn't put the ball in the bucket.”
A floater from the middle of the key by Henry and a 3-pointer by Kevin Barnes gave Kittanning a 22-16 lead at halftime.
David Lattanzio and Andrew Labutka hit 3-pointers to bring Ford City to within 26-22, and Kittanning took off from there.
“I told my guys, in a big rivalry game like this, the records and the rankings don't matter,” Sabers coach Greg Hutcherson said. ‘They made some shots they didn't make in the first half, and we had to come out of our zone defense that we were giving them trouble with.”
An intentional foul by Lattanzio led to a pair of free throws, and a 3-pointer from Henry gave Kittanning five points in seven seconds.
The officials called 28 fouls and three technical fouls in an effort to keep the heated matchup under control.
“We were nervous at first. It's a rivalry, and everyone knows each other,” Henry said. “We were a little tight at first, but we rose to the occasion, and you've got to give our kids credit.”
Kittanning successfully trapped the Sabers and altered a number of Ford City shots. Ford City had to call time outs twice when its ballhandlers were trapped by Kittanning defenders.
“They're a big, athletic team, and Kittanning hasn't had a team like this for years,” Hutcherson said. “They're a matchup problem for a lot of teams.”
Vince Mead led Kittanning with 10 rebounds, and Schaffer had four of the team's 10 steals.
Junior guard Jesse Sequeira led Ford City with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Kittanning will get set for the big Section 1-AAA showdown at Mars on Friday night.
Ford City will host Springdale in a nonsection game Friday.
George Guido is a freelance writer.