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Hounds struggle in opener

| Saturday, Dec. 1, 2007

ELIZABETH -- One game into the 2007-08 basketball season and Monessen coach Joe Salvino knows his team has only one way to go.

Up.

That's because the Greyhounds couldn't get any lower after a sluggish 55-42 loss to Penn-Trafford in the first round of the Elizabeth Forward Tip-Off Tournament.

Monessen meets Elizabeth Forward, an 84-60 loser to Baldwin in the consolation game today at 6 p.m.

Last night, the Greyhounds struggled to score points and appeared to be confused at times running the offense.

But Salvino knows there is good reason for that.

"I only have two players right now (Paul Kunsa and Roger Brandemarte) who have any varsity experience," Salvino said. "We're missing some key players and it showed.

"I think the kids who were playing in their first varsity game put extra pressure on themselves because now it's for real."

Monessen led early, 7-5, when freshman Terrance Stepoli hit a three-pointer with 3:42 left in the first quarter. However, the Warriors outscored Monessen 7-2 the rest of the quarter for a 12-9 lead. The Greyhounds never drew even after that.

Monessen trailed 30-20 at halftime and the winners scored the first seven points of the third period to open up a commanding 37-20 lead.

The Greyhounds put together one last run, outscoring the Warriors 9-2 in a 2:17 span to close within 39-29, but that was as close as they got the rest of the night.

"We hustled, but we didn't run the offense right because lack of game experience is killing us right now," Salvino said. "Hopefully, with every game we'll get better and get more confidence.

"Plus, once we get some people back, that should help."

Monessen was led by Stepoli, a 6-3 freshman who scored 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

"I thought he played well for a freshman," Salvino said. "He did some nice things."

Joining Stepoli in double figures for Monessen were Sheldon Miller and Kevin Parker with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Parker also grabbed six rebounds.

Penn-Trafford was led by Nate Bosco, who came off the bench to score 10 points -- all in the second quarter.

NOTES: Monessen's top returning player, Tim Tyree, is out after having thumb surgery. He is expected to return Dec. 20 ... One of Penn-Trafford's assistant coaches is John Shusteric, a former head coach at Belle Vernon Area ... Miller hit three three-pointers, all in the second half ... Monessen makes its home debut Tuesday against Greensburg Central Catholic.

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