Vincentian hands Hounds 'Royal' beating
Going into Friday's WPIAL boys Class A quarterfinal game with Monessen, Vincentian coach George Yokitis admitted to being more worried than normal.
But, really, he didn't need to be.
While Monessen is known as the Greyhounds, it was Vincentian that did the running. And running. And running.
And by the time the Royals were done running, the scoreboard clock wouldn't quit running as the Royals put a mercy rule enforced 81-42 whipping on the Greyhounds at Keystone Oaks.
“Oh, I was very worried,” Yokitis said. “They've got a coach who is a Hall of Fame coach with 530 wins. They have great athletes. I know they lost some kids (before the season), but they are great athletes. I just don't think they had their best game tonight, but I didn't see anybody give up. Did you see anybody give up?”
The Greyhounds (10-14) didn't give up. However, they just couldn't keep up with the pressure defense, hustling offense and dead-eye shooting of the second-seeded Royals (23-1).
“They were as good as advertised, there is no doubt about it,” Monessen coach Joe Salvino said. “They could shoot the heck out of the ball. They pressured you and they did the things they want you to do. They push you to a side and then they trap that area. They just keep coming after you. What else are you going to do?”
Salvino went to a five-guard offense to start the game to try and counter Vincentian's quick lineup. And still the Royals got off and running.
When Ryan Wolf tipped in a missed shot for Vincentian, the Royals had a commanding 16-4 lead three minutes into the game.
Monessen countered with a 7-0 run of its own to close the gap to 16-11. However, the Royals were just relentless with their trapping defense and run-and-gun offense and quickly built the lead back up to 29-17 at the end of the first quarter. As Wold (12) and Tony DiNardo (10) combined for 22 points.
“When we got it to 16-11, I thought we had the momentum, but then they hit a quick basket and we turned it over and they scored again,” Salvino said.
In the second quarter, the Greyhounds closed to 30-23 on two straight baskets by Clintell Gillaspie in the opening minute of the period. However, the Greyhounds' leading scorer quickly was whistled for his third foul and had to leave the game.
Vincentian then went on to outscore Monessen 20-4 the rest of the quarter to take a commanding 52-29 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter, Monessen's Lavelle Rush drained a three-pointer with 5:32 left to make it 56-36, but there would be no comeback this night.
Vincentian went on a torrid stretch that saw the Royals outscore Monessen 19-4 the rest of the quarter for a 75-40 lead. Wolf had nine points in the quarter.
Fifty-three seconds into the fourth quarter, DiNardo scored to make it 81-40 and the mercy rule kicked in.
Wolf finished with 23 points and DiNardo had 21 for the Royals.
Monessen got 12 points by Justice Rawlins (all in the first half) and 11 each from Gillaspie and Rush. Rush scored seven points in the third quarter.
“They are a good team, there is no doubt about that,” Salvino said of the winners. “If there is a team out there that can beat Lincoln Park, simply because of the pressure they put on you. And they shoot really, really well.”
“We've been shooting really well lately,” Yokitis admitted. “But you guys haven't seen us when we're not shooting well. When those shots go in, I look awfully smart. When they don't, I look pretty stupid.”
As far as seeing the season end for his team, Salvino was not disappointed in his squad.
“I'm proud of where we got to, the second round of the WPIAL playoffs,” he said. “We played a tough schedule. We're young and hopefully this playoff experience helped and we will see what happens next year.”
PLAYOFF NOTES: Vincentian will meet North Catholic in the semifinals. North Catholic defeated Our Lady of Sacred Heart, 53-46 ... Monessen loses only one senior from the roster, Moody Shenouda ... The loss snapped a streak of two straight years the Greyhounds went to the WPIAL title game, both in Class AA.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.