Falcons hope to slay Dragons
The Connellsville boys basketball team has waited 10 days, but the time has finally come for the Falcons to get back on the court as they travel to Ringgold High School for a first-round PIAA Class AAAA game today at 1:30 p.m. against Allderdice.
"I don't like the breaks," Connellsville coach Nick Bosnic said as he watched his team warm up for practice on Friday. "It gives the guys some of their energy back, but I'd rather play every other day because your reactions are faster."
The Falcons (24-3) haven't played since their WPIAL semifinal loss to Penn Hills on Feb. 26. But they better find a way to be ready today as they take on a very balanced Dragons (13-13) squad. Allderdice is the second seed from the Pittsburgh City League.
"They are a very athletic team," Bosnic said. "They like to get out and run. All five guys can do something well with the ball."
Allderdice features Deandre Langston, Eugene Harris, Brandon Stewart, Amir Johnson and Dominic Cravotti in the starting lineup.
All five are capable of putting up a lot of points, and all five did so during the team's City League playoff run, which ended with a loss to Perry in the semifinals on Feb. 21.
The Dragons boast an unspectacular 13-13 record, but Bosnic cautioned that the mark is a little deceiving. He noted that Allderdice split two games with Uniontown this year. The Falcons also managed a split against the Red Raiders.
As usual, the Falcons will rely first and foremost on their defense. Connellsville shows a lot of different looks on the defensive side, and that shouldn't change too much today.
"Team defense is key," Bosnic said. "We're working hard to make sure that we've got good help and we want to make them work hard for their shots. Each player on that team likes to try to score. The longer that we can make them move the ball and work for the shots, the tougher they'll have it."
The Falcons will also have to guard against getting into foul trouble, something that ultimately sealed their fate in the game against Penn Hills.
Aside from slowing down the Dragons and staying away from the fouls, the Falcons might have another problem on their hands.
Leading scorer James Hairston sprained an ankle in a scrimmage on Tuesday and missed a few days of practice. The junior forward is questionable for the game, but Bosnic expects him to play.
"I expect him to go," Bosnic stated.
Look for Hairston as well as senior point guard Shane Kovack, junior forward Kevin Bell, senior guard Chad Burton and senior forward Justin Marsinko to be in the starting lineup.
Kovack can pile up assists while Bell is strong on the glass. Marsinko provides a presence in the paint while Burton is the defensive general. Hairston leads the team in points scored, rebounds, blocked shots and assists.
Off the bench, Connellsville will rely on junior guard Andra Sledge and senior forward Matt Stone.
Bosnic stated that although this is a first round game against a .500 team, it won't be easy, but his team will be ready.
"I'm confident," Bosnic said. "I think we'll play a good game. All of these games will be a struggle right down to the end."
The winner of today's game will face the winner of today's Mt. Lebanon/Altoona match-up. That game will take place on Wednesday.