ROTTERDAM — In the opening minutes of its Section II Class A first-round game with Catholic Central Wednesday night, Mohonasen looked like a basketball team that hadn't played in two weeks.
The defense was sluggish. The offense lacked crispness.
That look changed quickly, as did the Mighty Warriors' fortunes.
"We hadn't played since the sixth of February," first-year Mohonasen coach Ray Kearney said after his defending tournament champions soared to a 62-37 win. "I kind of expected it."
Mohonasen erased a 6-5 deficit with 19 unanswered points spanning the first two quarters, and put the Crusaders away with a 14-0 run in the third frame that made it 46-20.
"We wanted to show people we're here to win," Mohonasen senior point guard Nick Richmond said.
Duncan Tallman scored 21 points to pace the Mighty Warriors (No. 6 seed, 15-6), Chase Monroe had 12 points and 13 rebounds, Richmond had five of his eight assists in the game-breaking third-quarter run and Shawn Gillisslee played defensive stopper against Catholic Central (No. 11, 9-12) spark plug Jackson Brown.
Brown finished with 13 points after netting 30 when Mohonasen forged a 66-50 win over the Crusaders on Jan. 11. Brown had five points through three quarters Wednesday night.
"He [Brown] had 15 in each half the first time," Kearney said. "We felt that was our key today, and Shawn did a great job."
"I knew they weren't going to let me touch the ball," said Brown, the junior son of University at Albany men's basketball coach Will Brown. "I had to try to create."
Mohonasen pinned down the rest of the Crusaders, too.
"That was one of our better defensive efforts as a team," Kearney said.
"We're mainly based on defense," said Richmond, who had two steals, five rebounds and seven points. "We want to hold teams down and outscore them."
The Crusaders were a team riding a five-game win streak entering the sectionals.
"We knew they would come in confident because they were on a win streak, and because they outscored us in the second half the last time we played," said Tallman, who, with Richmond, are the returning starters from last season's state semifinal edition. "That gave them confidence."
"We had a very good feel coming in," Brown said.
That went away, though, after Mohonasen began to string points. Mohonasen scored 14 in a row to close out the first quarter, with Tallman nailing a trio of 3-point baskets to start the run and Richmond capping it with another 3-ball. Drew Coelho hit a 3 to open the second quarter before a layup by Monroe made it 24-6.
"Coach always says we want to be on the positive end of spurts," Tallman said. "If we're up 10, we want to want to be up 18."
Catholic Central was within 32-20 early in the third when Mohonasen went on its next run, which Tallman started with two layups and a 3, each of those hoops assisted by Richmond.
"He stirs the drink for us," Kearney said of Richmond. "It seems like when he's been in foul trouble, we've been in trouble. He's a guy we need out there."
Gillisslee scored nine points, and Coelho had eight as part of Mohonasen's balanced offensive display.
"When we push the ball, we get a lot of points," Richmond said. "Defenses miscommunicate when we push it and go at them."
Catholic Central's Liam McDonald had eight points and eight rebounds to match Brown's total. McDonald's putback basket gave the Crusaders their early 6-5 lead.
"Too many turnovers, and the shots weren't going in," Brown said. "One of those games."
Mohonasen will play Averill Park (No. 3, 13-7) Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in one of four Class A quarterfinals at Hudson Valley Community College.
"Tough game on Sunday," Kearney said. "They play hard. We've got to match that."
Mattfeld 2-1-6, Brown 5-2-13, Clinton 1-0-2, Manley 1-1-3, McDonald 3-1-8, Walters 1-3-5. Totals: 13-8-37.
Coelho 3-0-8, Febbie 0-2-2, Gillisslee 3-2-9, Monroe 5-2-12, Richmond 3-0-7, Tallman 8-1-21, Gannon 1-0-3. Totals: 23-7-62.
Catholic Central 6 11 3 17 — 37
Mohonasen 19 11 16 16 — 62