Bristol’s pressure overwhelms Mooney

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Bristol’s Danny Lamosek, left, and Bryan Gabrielson, right, fight for possession with Cardinal Mooney’s Anthony Fire during Saturday’s game in Bristolville. The Panthers beat the Cardinals, 51-41.

BRISTOLVILLE — Coach Carey Palermo knew exactly what his team faced Saturday, subjecting them to opponents and practices to prepare for the inevitable.

Palermo said the Cardinal Mooney boys basketball team faced the same run-and-jump pressure the past few games against John F. Kennedy, East Cleveland Shaw, LaBrae and Steubenville.

Coming to the heart of Bristolville, it wasn’t going to get any easier as the Cardinals found out early in Saturday’s 51-41 loss to Bristol.

Bristol (13-2) forced 11 first-half turnovers with the Panthers vaunted pressure defense, scoring on most of those Cardinals’ miscues as Bristol took a 32-20 halftime lead.

“Man, they just convert every time you turn it over,” Palermo said. “They really do. They’re really well-coached.”

Tribune Chronicle / John Vargo Bristol’s Danny Lamosek, right, passes the ball while being guarded by Pete Haas of Mooney during their game Saturday in Bristolville. The Panthers won, 51-41.

Cardinal Mooney, which had 21 turnovers, started to figure out the trap and zone defenses and retaliate later in the game.

The pressure mounted on Bristol in the fourth quarter, a team which, for the most part, ran roughshod in the Northeastern Athletic Conference for years with its up-tempo game.

Jordan Stanford connected on a 3-pointer with 4:24 remaining to cut the Bristol lead to 44-35, and Cardinal Mooney (3-10) outscored the Panthers 14-9 in the fourth quarter.

Just as the Cardinals began to exude that pressure on a quick, fundamentally sound Bristol team, Gage Elza, who had a team-high 14 points, popped two of this four 3-pointers to push out the lead.

Cardinal Mooney was trapping over half court as Bristol tried to get the passing angles it had in the first half. The Panthers rushed and didn’t stay as calm as they needed. The Panthers had five of their 17 turnovers in the fourth quarter. Half of those 17 were unforced.

It’s something Bristol has to fix going forward, but sometimes it’s good to have these kind of victories to show the mettle of a team, Bristol coach Craig Giesy said.

“We were happy with how resilient they were,” he said.

Tommy Donadio had 13 points, while Bryan Gabrielson added 10 for Bristol.

Cardinal Mooney had opportunities, but shot 5 of 15 in the fourth and 15 of 51 in the game.

Palermo said his team had good, open looks, inside and out, but beating Bristol isn’t happening by scoring 40 points. Getting in the 60s puts you closer to beating the high-energy Panthers.

“The lay-ups, little things and whatnot, killed us,” Palermo said.

However, the Cardinals held Bristol to 51 — about 23 below the Panthers average.

Pete Hass led Mooney with 14 points, while Anthony Fire had 12 points and 11 rebounds.

“The effort I don’t have a fault with,” Palermo said.

Giesy knew this Mooney team made the changes it needed during the second half, taking away some of the Panthers’ potency.

“They way they play made us change what we do a little bit,” he said. “I thought he made a good adjustment there.

“We got some turnovers in the first half we didn’t get in the second half. His kids made adjustments.”

Just as the Cardinals altered their game, so has Bristol the last couple of weeks. Bobby Evan, who had to sit out the first 11 games of the season after transferring from Maplewood, is starting to adjust to the Panthers system.

Giesy said his team is getting better each game and making strides. He’s seen that the last couple of weeks.

Games like Saturday and against teams like LaBrae prepare Bristol for the postseason, more than getting easy victories. The Panthers play Mooney and LaBrae next season.

“It helps us, getting outside playing teams we normally play that are physical, big and quick,” Giesy said. “It’s going to help us down the road.”