GIRARD OH- Last season, the Ursuline Irish and coach Keith Gunther ended their 2020-21 season with five straight losses after a big first half of the season that saw them out score their opponents nearly every game. This time, with half their team out due to the State championship, the Irish were playing with some new younger players as they went on the road to Girard high school to take on coach Craig Hannon and the Indians who finished their 2020-21 season with a three and 15 record.
Both teams made it close in the first quarter with the Irish gaining the momentum first with four points from Pankey, one being right after the opening tip. Jaden Payne also came into the game with four points, two of them being free throws. However, the Indians answered right back with momentum on their side from Gus Johnson scoring nine points leading the pack.
The second quarter became a different story with the Indians keeping that momentum rolling with Johnson scoring five points, Bobby Alejars with three points and Ashton Pozega scoring two points as well as Mike Palmer. Meanwhile on the Irish side, Pankey and Vincent Flauto combined for five points and Payne got two free throws ending the half with it being 23 to 19.
In the second half however, it was the battle of offenses with Ursuline getting their teamwork and plays down with Geno Lucente scoring five points, Flauto with eight points as well Payne with eight. However, the fourth quarter was all Girard in the end as they turned up the jets after some tough misses in the third quarter. Johnson had three, one of which was a free throw, Alejars had eight in the fourth, and Thomas Cardiero after only having two in the first half, made a fourth quarter emergence, drawing fouls his way and scoring eight points.
Ryan Fitzgerald also added a saved layup on his end and the Irish did get a buzzer beater but it wasn’t enough as the Indians got their first win of the season 49 to 47 against the Ursuline Irish, and their first opening night victory since 2018 against the Howland Tigers.
Nick Bako scored two points from the field, Geno Lucente. Two of three on free throws and seven points. Vincent Flauto with 11 points, Jaden Payne with 14 points and Terrance Pankey with 13, going one for two on free throws.
Gus Johnson led the back with 17 points, and one for four on free throws. Bobby Alejars two made free throws and 11 points. Jordan Grant, Ashton Pozega and Ryan Fitzgerald combined for six points. Thomas Cardiero with 10 points and Mike Palmer with four. Chris Cardiero with a point.
Ursuline (0-1) will head to Austintown to take on the Fitch Falcons on Friday, 7pm tip-off. Girard (1-0) will host the Lowellville Rockets, 7pm.
*Contributed by YSNs Ian O’Brien*