Rough play doesn't hurt Hounds
HOUSTON -- A litmus test of a quality team is how well it reacts to adversity.
And Tuesday night, the Monessen Greyhounds passed that test with flying colors, coming away with a 66-51 Class AA Section 5 win over host Chartiers-Houston.
The Buccaneers (7-3, 2-2) tried to turn the basketball game into a football contest with the Greyhounds (4-3, 4-0), as 51 fouls were called in the contest. Those included one technical on the Bucs' bench, an intentional foul and an official sending a Chartiers-Houston player from the game for over aggressive play.
The roughhousing style seemed to work in the first half as the hosts played to a 31-31 tie with the section leaders.
However, in the second half, Monessen used an 18-5 spurt in the third quarter to take control.
"I thought we did a good job of keeping our poise and composure tonight," said Monessen coach Joe Salvino. "But we put ourselves in that position because of the way we played in the first half.
"We didn't play any defense and we certainly had no intensity. But in the second half we picked our defense up and played the way we are capable of playing. We rebounded and we made plays."
After the Bucs scored the first four points of the third quarter to take a 35-31 lead, Monessen caught fire behind the play of 6-6 sophomore Cam Johnson.
Johnson scored six of his 10 points and recorded five of his seven blocked shots in the quarter.
"Cam has so much ability, but he's young," said Salvino. "We need more of that from him. As he gets experience, we hope he plays that way more often."
With a 49-40 deficit going into the fourth quarter, it was obvious Chartiers-Houston was in trouble.
The Greyhounds started the quarter with possession and held the ball in hopes to get the Bucs out of their 2-3 zone defense.
However, the hosts refused to come out and Monessen held the ball for 2:25 until Matt Wall drew an intentional foul call.
Wall made both free throws and then Terrance Stepoli scored on the ensuing possession and the lead ballooned to 53-40.
"I knew they could not match up with us. Their only hope was to keep it close and play the way they were," Salvino said. "If they tried to play us man, they couldn't keep up. So no, I was not surprised they tried to stay in that zone."
The Greyhounds salted the game away by going 8-for-8 at the foul line down the stretch.
"This was a good win for us because this team is tough to beat at their place," said Salvino.
The veteran Monessen coach paused and then added with a smile, "Now I can enjoy my Christmas."
NOTES: Stepoli led Monessen with 21 points, including four slam dunks ... Johnson had a game-high 14 rebounds while Nick Bolias added nine points and six assists. Stepoli also had five steals ... Chartiers-Houston was led by Ryan Scott's 15 points, 12 coming in the second half ... In the junior varsity game, Johnson scored twice on dunks off perfect lob passes from Jeff Francia ... Monessen resumes play at 6 p.m. Monday against Bethel Park in the Upper St. Clair Holiday Tournament.