YOUNGSTOWN - One could say that the Ursuline Fighting Irish had a guardian angel looking out for them on Friday night.
In the beginning of the third, the Irish were down by a 15-point margin and came back to win in overtime against archrival Cardinal Mooney, 64-57.
"It's just an unbelievable effort to be down 15 and come back and win," Ursuline coach Keith Gunther said. "It's been a rough week for me. My mom passed away last week. It's a part of life but I can tell you what, those kids really came through for me. I love them to death. This has just been a rough week turning out to a great week. Take the hats off to the Ursuline fans and the Ursuline kids. I'm just really proud of them."
Gunther gave all the credit to his players for earning such a big win.
"The 1-3-1 was giving us problems," Gunther said. "We were playing timid the first half so we decided to screen the guy up top and screen the guy on the wing and let our guards go to work. We told them to stop playing timid and just start shooting the ball. We thought Mark (Hughes), Dave (Collins) and Gino (Naples) gave us a big lift in the second half. But I think that the guy who won the game for us that no one will see in the stats is Gino Naples by the way he defended and the way he rebounded. He got a huge charge. It was a major play. He hit some big free throws."
With 7:31 left in the third, the score went up to 35-20 in Mooney's favor. The Irish were able to hold off the Cardinals for an entire 3 minutes though, which allowed them to score 10 points, putting them back in the game at 35-30. When the third period ended, the Irish outscored the Cardinals 20-10.
Sophomore David Collins came out hot in the second half and led all scorers with 22 points - 20 coming in the second half. Greg Parilla added 12 points and Mark Hughes connected for 11 points.
"We were in the locker room and we just talked that we were going to come back, play hard and play as a team," Collins said. "Hughes and Greg (Parilla), we all had to work together and score. It was a lack of scoring in the first half but we came out and shot the ball (in the second half). We didn't really shoot the ball in the first half, that's what got us down. We capitalized on their turnovers and we just made the shots. We did what we had to do to win."
Mooney didn't give up without a fight.
Senior Joe Cunningham knocked down six field goals, five of which were 3-point shots, and went a perfect 2-2 from the line to total 19 points. Andrew Armstrong recorded 14 and Joey Kleeh had nine.
"I thought that we had a lot of unforced errors and a lot of turnovers," Mooney coach Brian Danilov said. "We were hurrying and trying too hard. We had a couple of breakdowns on the defensive end as far as not boxing out or rebounding and just not covering in certain areas as a team. We can't have those. Like everyone says, when you lose, you can't lose the lesson and this is a hard lesson for us to learn. A lot of it was self-inflicted. We just have to get back to work tomorrow."
Mooney started the game off strong, winning the first half, 32-18, but Ursuline converted on too many Cardinal turnovers in the third and that proved to be the difference.
"We told them to be aware that they are probably going to come out and get on a roll and be on a roll," Danilov said. "I thought we played faster than the game in the second half. In the first half we were playing our pace of the game. Our guys are a great group of guys. They really work at it and they really want it but we have to learn how to play a complete game and play at the pace of the game, whatever the pace of the game dictates."