GIRARD - Heading into a Dec. 19 contest between Kennedy and Girard, it would be safe to say that first-year head coaches Brent Villella and Nick Cochran weren't pleased with their teams' records.
As the game wore on, it was evident that neither team's players were happy about it either as both fought from start to finish with Girard (2-4) denying Villella his first victory at Kennedy (0-5) with a, 76-71, win in overtime.
"I think anytime you get a Girard and Kennedy team together I think it's going to be a physical game just because of the rivalry," Girard's Cochran said. "That's one thing we've been talking about is we try to stay clean, but the biggest thing is the last couple games we've been getting pushed around. We didn't want that to happen today."
The Eagles battled their way back from an 11-point, first-quarter deficit to hold a one-point lead late in the fourth quarter. But Girard hit two free throws before Kennedy's Pat Hull split a pair from the line to tie the game at 64.
Joe Augustine's 3 was off the mark on the ensuing possession, and Joe Cavalier's put back just missed as time expired sending the game to overtime.
"We without a doubt are (getting better)," Villella said. "We're trying to continue to reiterate that to our kids because they're playing so hard and they're making gigantic steps. But it's hard for a 15- or 16-year-old kid to realize they're making progress if they don't have a win in the column."
Kennedy came out quick in overtime as Hull, who led all scorers with 24 points, converted a three-point play to give the Eagles a 67-64 lead.
"Pat was very big in taking it strong to the rim for us," Villella said. "This was a breakthrough game for him. We've been telling him for weeks how much speed he has and how difficult he is to defend on the perimeter and we needed this game to show that to him."
The lead was short-live though as Girard ended the period on a 12-4 run, led by the play of senior Adam Charles, who led the Indians with 21 points.
Cochran said he changed his lineup in the extra session and his player rewarded him with a strong effort.
"In the overtime we went to a group that really hasn't played much together," he said. "It was four seniors and a junior. I couldn't be any happier for the seniors to step up. Especially for Adam I think a lot of it comes from football and being a leader. His leadership today really paid off."
Aside from having to overcome a physically stronger Indians team, Kennedy also had to overcome the loss of senior Deonte Stubbs. Stubbs got off to a fast start, scoring 15 points in the first three quarters before a leg injury forced him to stay on the bench.
Villella downplayed the loss, preferring to focus on the opportunity it gave young players like Brenden Cox, who sparked a run with seven third-quarter points, and Rob Seger, who scored six points in the fourth period.
"That didn't help things but the guys that filled in for him did a nice job," he said. "He (Stubbs) had a phenomenal first half, maybe his best of the season. It doesn't help to lose arguably our best defender and one of our better rebounders, but Brenden did a phenomenal job off the bench for us, Rob did and Dom (Naples) did. Every guy we brought in did what they were supposed to and gave us big minutes."
Now, it's time move on.
"I think you should be more upbeat," Cochran said of his team's attitude following the victory. "The kids know they celebrated today and they had fun tonight, but they know tomorrow is a work day so we have to go out and work tomorrow. ..."