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Cards top Chaney as both overcome several challenges

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Katie Hough (20) of Cardinal Mooney battles Skye Kitchen of Chaney for a rebound on Wednesday at Mooney High School where the Cardinals were victorious, 83-20.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left an impact on every team in a different way.

Look no further than Wednesday evening’s girls basketball contest between Chaney and Cardinal Mooney.

The Cowboys went into the game looking to get their season underway after Youngstown City Schools put a halt to sports back in late November. On the flip side of the coin, the Cardinals found themselves short-handed due to quarantines leaving them with seven players.

A limited Mooney roster broke the team’s three-game losing skid at home by cruising past Chaney 83-20.

For Cardinals coach Jason Baker, it was about showing character despite the circumstances surrounding the team.

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Mooney senior Gia DiVincenzo resets the offense after snagging a rebound during the first half. She recorded a game-high 22 in the Cardinals 83-20 win over Chaney.

“The last 24 hours have been really strange with a lot of different things happening,” Baker said. “For our girls to come out and perform the way they did tonight, it absolutely talks a lot about their character.

“The importance of our program, and representing our program, and playing. It doesn’t matter who’s out there, we’re playing hard and trying to do the right things.”

One of the voices that helped rally the Cardinals was senior Gia DiVinenzo, who tallied a game-high 22 points, including 14 in the second quarter.

“I think it shows that even with some starters missing, that we always can push through,” she said. “We have a strong team, we kept our character tonight and pushed through with a good win.

“I think we really attacked the rim well, we had a lot of shots in the paint, and we finished really well tonight.”

Mooney jumped out to an early 8-0 lead thanks in big part to senior Cherish Little putting in a couple of early shots. With 5:34 to go in the first, Chaney sophomore Laionia Williams broke the run with a 3-pointer to score the first points of the season for her team.

Cowboys coach Kaneesha Tensley said her team was just happy to be back in the gym, and she said she thinkg that her players have responded well to COVID-19 protocols.

“The girls have actually been doing really good, doing the best we can in order to be safe and making sure that they’re getting in practice. We’re doing what we need to do,” she said.

“Unfortunately, dealt a bad hand with COVID going on, but at the same time, we’re still looking to grow and there’s a lot of progress that’s actually going on.”

DiVinenzo’s stellar second quarter helped guide the Cardinals to a 43-9 lead going into the locker room at halftime, but as a senior, she tried to help guide some of the younger players on the team.

“We have a lot of the girls that don’t get a lot of varsity time, that played,” she said. “I just kept saying, no nerves, you got to be confident with your shot, and they came through and finished well.”

Joining her in double figures scoring wise were sophomore Maria Fire (18), senior Katie Hough (13), junior Gia Diorio (10), and Little (10).

The win came at a big time for the Cardinals who dropped three straight contests against South Range, Canfield, and Harding.

“In two of those, I feel like we competed really well and were in the games,” Baker said. “So, we needed one like this where, yeah, we could build a little confidence.”

Mooney (5-4) has a little time before its next game, which is at Bristol on Monday. The Cardinals hope to have a few of their players back next week.

Chaney (0-1) senior Cazhia Jackson paced the Cowboys with 12 points, including a trio of 3-pointers.

Despite the loss, Tensley saw some good things to build on going into her team’s contest at Campbell this evening.

“Just continue to build our team chemistry, learning the game of basketball, increasing our basketball IQ and making sure that we’re able to get with it offensively and defensively,” she said.

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