Mohonasen didn’t shoot very well from the foul line in the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s Suburban Council basketball game at Columbia.
In the end, it didn’t really matter, but Mohonasen’s defensive effort certainly did.
“We hit our shots when we needed to, and we held them down,” sophomore forward Grant Massaroni said after the Mighty Warriors prevailed, 56-51, in the regular-season finale for both teams. “Those were the keys.”
Massaroni scored eight of his 17 points in the last quarter, and Mohonasen limited Columbia to a basket and two foul shots over the final 31⁄2 minutes in earning a share of the league’s South Division championship with its fifth consecutive triumph.
“Our defense in the second half was back to normal,” said Mohonasen coach Ken Dagostino. “In the first half, they spun us around like a top. We tweeked our ball pressure in the second half, and stuck to our basic principles.”
Garrett Sisson came through with Mohonasen’s biggest defensive play in the final seconds, drawing a charging foul before Jeff Kruzinski and Sisson both went 1-for-2 from the line to create the final margin as the Mighty Warriors finished 13-3 in the division, the same at Bethlehem.
“This is a big deal for us,” said Sisson, a senior forward who had 15 points and three steals. “Last year, we were 7-13, and a lot of our losses came at the end of games. This season was a complete turnaround.”
Mohonasen (14-4 overall) never trailed after Kruzinski scored on a drive and Sisson nailed a three-pointer for a 42-40 lead late in the third quarter. The Mighty Warriors could never build a comfortable margin, though, due in part to a 6-for-14 foul-shooting performance over the final eight minutes.
“We may have missed some free throws, but we showed pride on defense,” said Sisson.
Corey Gibson turned a steal into a layup to get Columbia (8-7, 10-8) within 48-47 with 3:33 left, and afterward, the Blue Devils came up empty on four straight possessions. Mohonasen went 0-for-4 from the line during the stretch, missing the front end of two one-and-ones, while a putback by Sisson and a layup by Massaroni stretched its lead to 52-47.
“We’re a 70 percent free-throw team. It was just one of those nights. The big thing is we got it done,” said Dagostino, whose team was 11-for-21 from the line in all; Columbia was 12-for-15. “I’m proud of our guys. I hope everyone in the Mohonasen community realizes how big this is for these kids.”
Tyler Hart’s two foul shots pulled Columbia within 52-49 with 58.4 seconds left, and after both teams failed to score, Massaroni made a pair from the line with 40 seconds to go. Connor Ramon answered for the Devils on a layup, and at the other end, Ben Dalton misfired twice from the line.
Moments later, with Mohonasen up, 54-51, Sisson stepped in front of a driving Erik Martin, drew a charge, and that led to Kruzinski’s free throw with 8.4 seconds remaining.
Sisson made his foul shot with a second left after a Columbia miss.
“I saw him coming down, and he didn’t stop,” Sisson said of the second charge he drew. “He had his head down, and I thought, ‘This is an opportunity.’ When he ran into me, I couldn’t have been happier.”
“Sisson is the charge master,” Dagostino said. “It’s one of the reasons he stays on the floor. That’s him. That’s us. Down and dirty.”
Mohonasen held off Columbia for the second time, with a Jan. 14 meeting in Rotterdam ending in a 62-56 overtime win for the Mighty Warriors.
“In the the last six games with them, three went overtime, two others were one-pointers and tonight was a four-pointer,” Columbia coach Jim Obermayer said.
Columbia got a career-high 21 points from Ramon, 15 from Gibson and 13 out of Hart. Ramon delivered 12 first-half points and Hart had seven, including a three-point hoist that gave the Devils an 18-10 first-quarter advantage before Mohonasen rallied with a 9-0 push to take its first lead since 2-0.
The game had 14 lead changes after Massaroni’s layup put his team up, 19-18. Gibson’s drive gave Columbia it final lead at 38-37 in the third quarter before Kruzinski answered.
“I’m new to this rivalry, but in both games with them, it’s been a great environment,” Massaroni said.
Tallman 1-0-3, Dalton 3-1-7, Schaninger 1-0-2, Manikas 3-1-7, Masaaroni 6-5-17, Kruzinski 2-1-5, Sisson 5-3-15. Totals: 21-11-56.
Hart 4-4-13, Davis 0-2-2, Gibson 6-1-15, Ramon 8-5-21, Brown 0-0-0. Totals: 18-12-51.
Mohonasen 15 13 14 14 — 56
Columbia 18 9 13 11 — 51
Three-point goals: Tallman, Sisson 2, Hart, Gibson 2.
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Categories: High School Sports