Close one at Covelli

YOUNGSTOWN – A sign on the door of the locker room read “Girard,” but for some reason out walked John F. Kennedy Eagles coach Shawn Pompelia.

No, Pompelia wasn’t suffering a senior moment. He simply decided to make a stop on his way back to the Eagles’ locker room to personally commend the Indians for their play in a 62-59 overtime win Saturday at the third annual Lariccia’s See Them Rise Showcase at the Covelli Centre.

“I’ve never done that, but I walked into the locker room and told those guys that, ‘Your season is going along well and you have a lot to be proud of,’ and they have to believe they can win that (Division III) district in Howland,” Pompelia said.

“They might lack some height, but they don’t lack heart. That’s something you can’t teach. At halftime I said, ‘They’re going to come at us. You have to weather that storm.’ “

The storm came in the form of a 21-point third quarter for the Indians, who trailed 26-19 at halftime. The Eagles struggled on the offensive end in the quarter and fell behind 40-35 entering the fourth quarter.

The Eagles (2-9) rallied to tie the score at 49-49 on an inside shot by Zackary Usher. Dylan O’Hara, who led the 11-2 Indians in scoring with 19 points, missed a drive from right of the lane. The Eagles rebounded and called a timeout with 14.2 seconds to play.

Junior guard Preston Caparanis got a good look from just beyond the 3-point arc in the final seconds, but the ball rimmed in and out.

The Indians took the lead in overtime on a twisting drive to the basket by Jim Standohar. Girard stretched its lead to seven points, 59-52, and held on for the win.

“This event is great,” Indians coach Craig Hannon said. “I tell the kids all the time that these neutral-site events, especially in an arena like this, are rewards for all their hard work and determination. You don’t want to come out and lose. What I’m most proud of is that no matter who we play or where we play, we never give up.”

The Indians had to contend with the inside presence of the 6-7 Usher, who scored 16 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. The junior, however, was stifled after being whistled for his fourth personal foul late in the third quarter.

“We don’t have a great matchup for bigs,” Hannon said. “He’s a big boy and did a lot of good things. Our kids got smarter about attacking him, too. It’s harder to attack from head-on. You have to attack him from ball reversal and things of that nature.”

The Indians played a zone most of the game in an attempt to prevent inside passes to Usher. He had three field goals in the first quarter but just four more the rest of the game.

“We didn’t move well in the interior of our zone (offense),” Pompelia said. “We stood around too much.”

O’Hara was off a bit on his outside shooting touch, but he still managed to make five 3-point shots. Chaston Williams added 15 points for Girard, and Standohar finished with 13.

“Coach told me to keep shooting,” O’Hara said. “In the first half our shots weren’t falling. He said if we kept shooting that they would eventually fall.”

Isaac Carrino made three 3-poiunt shots in scoring 19 points for the Eagles, who led 12-7 after one quarter. Caparanis had 10 points.

Pompelia said that it was a down locker room emotionally. The Eagles have played well but a difficult schedule has made wins hard to achieve.

“We had a chance to win it, and it just rimmed out,” Pompelia said of Caparanis’ shot. “That’s how our season has been. We’re close, but we’re just not getting it done. I’m happy with the way we’ve been competitive, but we have to find some Ws.”