By Ty Bartell

CANTON OH- The Cardinal-Mooney Cardinals fell in the region 9 regional final to the perennial powerhouse, The Lutheran East Falcons by a final score of 56-43. Both teams entered the Saturday afternoon contest winners of 20+ games each, with The Falcons sporting a 20-5 record and Mooney a 22-5 clip. Winners of the northeast 3 district, the #1 seeded Falcons had steamrolled their way to the elite eight with convincing victories against the likes of Cleveland Bard, Ravenna Southeast, Wellington and Fairview along the way.

Meanwhile, the #4 seeded Cardinals had a similar run with five playoff wins prior to the regional final against teams like Cleveland Campus International, Brookfield, Mapleton, South Range and Canton Central Catholic.

Lutheran East started off the first quarter on the right foot with Mooney struggling to find offense, feeling at times like a lid was on the basket for The Cardinals. The Falcons utilized the missed attempts and turned several of them into quick offense the other way, finding themselves ahead of Mooney 16-8 after the first quarter. The offensive struggles continued for The Cardinals into the second, with Mooney missing seven open-look layups in the first half, Lutheran East promptly took advantage. Posting a 12-6 second quarter, doubling the offensive output from The Cardinals two consecutive quarters in a row, leading it 28-14 at halftime.

Out of the second half, The Cardinals still found themselves trying to wake up their offense, with a variety of shots not falling for Mooney as they typically would. However, The Cardinals defense kept them within striking distance, holding The Falcons to just 11 points in the third as a part of an 11-3 third quarter. With Lutheran East leading 39-22 at the start of the third, Mooney was left with no choice but to leave it all on the floor for the final eight minutes, and that they did! Spearheaded by Ashton O’Brien, The Cardinals came out swinging in the fourth

with AOB posting 10 points in the fourth quarter alone, helping draw Mooney back to within six. However, Lutheran East managed to survive the spurt from The Cardinals and managed to settle momentum down en route to a 56-43 win, despite being outscored 21-17 in the quarter.

Lutheran East spread the love around offensively, with multiple names sharing similar numbers on the offensive side. Leading the scoring for The Falcons was Ronald Taylor who ended with 10 points, followed by Chris Hill and Jesse McCulloch who each had 9 points, and rounding things out were both Alan Mallory and Anthony Bruce each finishing with 8 points for The Falcons. Meanwhile, Mooney was led by Ashton O’Brien, who led all scorers with a game-high 18 points, followed by Jibri Carter who had 13 points and Rocco Turner who ended the contest with 7 points.

Lutheran East (21-5) will now make the trip to Dayton as a part of the state final four! As for Mooney (22-6) they ended another successful season in heartbreaking fashion, on the doorstep of Dayton with their second elite eight finish in the last three years with both losses coming to Lutheran East.
Thank you for keeping up with Mooney basketball all season long and stay tuned for continued Cardinal-Mooney Cardinals athletics with live games, scores, stats, stories and more on YSN!