Girard finds focus, edges Niles

GIRARD – With 4 minutes, 45 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Girard coach Craig Hannon asked for a timeout.

He had just watched Niles’ Cameron Kane hit a 3-pointer and the Red Dragons open the second half with a 14-3 run to tie the game at 34.

“I just felt we lost focus there,” Hannon said. “I felt we were letting them do whatever they wanted, especially off the (rebounds). They just kicked it out and got a couple of easy ones.”

Up until that point, the Indians did not have a steal in the contest. During the next 6 minutes, they had five, helping them score the final 10 points of the quarter and close out a 15-0 run early in the final frame. The spurt enabled Girard to come away with a 61-46 victory.

“We weren’t trying to steal, but we just amped up the pressure a little bit,” Hannon added.

Girard guard Chaston Williams had six points in the run. He came off the bench to lead all players with 21, more than doubling his career high.

“It feels pretty good to know that I contributed to our team’s win,” the 5-foot-11 junior said.

The Indians won their fifth in a row and improved to 6-2. The Red Dragons dropped to 4-3.

While the teams split two big runs in the second half, Girard had the lone one in the first two quarters. A Justin Lopes 3-pointer gave the Dragons a 15-12 lead in the opening frame before Girard went on an 18-3 run. Williams and fellow junior Dylan O’Hara each scored six points in that stretch as the Indians reached intermission with a 31-20 lead.

Niles fought back in the third quarter thanks in great part to the play of junior guard Muhammed Salaam. During the aforementioned comeback, Salaam had seven points and two steals and assisted on Kane’s trey that knotted the contest.

“There were not a lot of positives tonight but he was definitely one of them,” said Niles coach Ron Price.

During that stretch the Dragons made 6 of 9 field goals. The rest of the game Niles managed just 12 of 55 and ended the contest 4 of 23 from outside the arc.

“The ball just didn’t go in,” Price said. “I thought most of them were good shots. The guys that usually hit weren’t hitting. But that happens.”

Evan Standohar had his typical game for the Indians, finishing with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Jim Standohar added nine points and six assists for the winners. Salaam paced Niles with 14 points while Lopes added 10.

“I wasn’t just happy with our effort tonight,” Hannon said. “It wasn’t just the effort but how well we played.”