Harrell's big game carries Hempfield past Greensburg Salem
Mark Marino's first win as Hempfield's new boys basketball coach didn't come easy.
When you play your rival, Greensburg Salem, you expect them to play with maximum effort, and the visitors did.
Hempfield raced out to a lead and then held on for a 53-42 victory Friday in the Hempfield Tipoff Tournament.
Junior Kason Harrell led the way with a game-high 26 points for Hempfield, which opened with a 12-2 run and led 19-12 after one quarter.
The six-team tournament continues Saturday with Keystone Oaks (0-1) facing Greensburg Salem (0-1) at 5 p.m., followed by Jeannette (1-0) against McKeesport and Hempfield (1-0) against Greensburg Central Catholic (1-0).
“It wasn't easy, I knew that after watching them in the fall,” said Marino, who replaced Jim Nesser. “We knew it would be challenging, and this is just one of many challenges we'll face this season.
“I was glad how well we responded to some adversity. We stuck to the game plan. It was a team effort.”
Greensburg Salem, which lost by 40 in last season's game to Hempfield under then-new coach Craig Mankins, battled back.
The Golden Lions used an 8-0 run to pull to within 16-12 on 3-pointers by Delaine Hughes and Simeon Stevens. Hempfield pushed its lead to 34-23 at halftime, but Greensburg Salem continued to crawl back, pulling to within 41-37 late in the third quarter.
But a layup by Harrell on a defensive breakdown gave Hempfield a 43-37 lead after three quarters, and a free throw by Ty George (11 points) and a 3-pointer and bucket by Harrell pushed to lead to 49-37.
“Our offense execution wasn't good early on,” Mankins said. “We knew they'd come out hard with Tony (Pilato) not playing. We did a good job responding once we calmed down.”
Pilato, the Spartans' 6-foot-7 junior forward, missed the game because of a death in the family.
“Our first-half defense wasn't good,” Mankins said. “We did a much better job in the second half, but that defensive miscue late in the third quarter hurt. They did a nice job getting their best players to ball in key situations.”
Antonio Ferrari led Greensburg Salem with 14 points, and Stevens added 13.
Logan Hunter scored 10 points for Hempfield, all in the first half.
Hempfield senior Mike Nauman said the transition to the new coach will take time. He said everyone still is learning his style.
“I like how he teaches us,” Nauman said. “He has his way, and then he'll joke with us after he gets his point to us.”