WEIRTON - Despite having nearly as many turnovers as field goals, Madonna went out to an early lead and left little doubt which Weirton team is the city champion. The Blue Dons dominated the scoreboard in winning their third straight city title 55-27 last night at the Dube Dome.
For a team that's grasping for some positives, the winless Red Riders (0-7) did have more turnovers than field goals (13 to 10), but their 13 miscues were far less than they've had in the previous six games.
For the Blue Dons (2-3), the win snapped a three-game losing streak.
Photo courtesy of Newbrough Photo
THREE?STRAIGHT — The Madonna basketball poses with the Weirton?City Titletrophy following the Blue Dons’ 55-27 win over Weir Friday at the Dube Dome.
The game was won on the backboards, according to veteran Madonna coach, George Vargo, who was drenched with sweat following the game.
"I really think the game was won on the boards," Vargo explained. "We out rebounded them 37-8 and that was the big difference. We're a much bigger team with (Nate) Guio, (Tyler) Ewusiak,(James) Carnes, and (Josh) Martin. That's a pretty big team out there."
That group is no one shorter than 6-feet-2, but as Vargo talked about his big guys, it was junior Wil Bowser, who at 6-feet, led all rebounders with eight.
Madonna 55, Weir High 27
Weir 5 7 12 3 - 27
Madonna 15 14 8 18 - 55
WEIR HIGH: Viakley 1 0-0 2, Davis 2 0-0 5, Cassiadoro 1 2-2 5, Groves 5 1-2 12, Sims 1 0-2 3. Totals: 10 3-6 27. Three-pointers: Davis, Cassiadoro, Groves, Sims; Rebounds: 8 (Groves, Sims, 3 each); Turnovers 13.
MADONNA: Guio 6 1-1 13, Antinone 1 0-3 2, Jeter 2 0-0 4, Ewusiak 3 1-1 7, Bowser 1 2-2 5, Carnes 7 1-2 16, Martin 4 0-0 8, Baier 0 0-2 0. Totals: 24 5-9 55. Three-pointers: Bowser, Carnes; Rebounds: 37 (Bowser, 8, Martin, 7); Turnovers: 20.
For the Red Riders, it was the same old bug-a-boo that has plagued them so far in the early season-putting the ball through the hoop.
"It's frustrating," said Weir High coach, Mike Granato. "It's more frustrating, at times for me, whenever you can see on the kids faces that they're trying to squeeze the air out of the ball, so to speak.
"You're running things and guys are where they're supposed to be and you take the shot and start missing. Well then the thing that happens after that is the guys start forcing it a little bit. But tonight we had to start forcing it, especially in the fourth quarter, to try to hit some threes to get back into the game.
"We had a stretch in the third quarter where we made them turn the ball over seven out of nine times down the floor and we came out of it with only four points. That was our break time, so to speak. It was a time that if you're going to make a run in the game, that was when we had to do it.
"I know it sounds like a broken record, but the guys are going about it in the right way. I like this group as a team. Now it's my job to keep them together and get them to understand we have 15 more games to go."
Weir High's Josh Groves was the only Red Rider in double figures. The 6-3 senior swished 12 points through the net including an early three-pointer. Groves scored all of Weir High's five first quarter points with back-to-back jumpers from the left baseline, one for two and the other three.
"We just need someone to step up," Granato explained. "Josh did a little bit of that tonight. I tried to point out to our younger kids that we were down 55-27 near the end of the game, and here was Josh Groves diving on the floor for a loose ball. That's an example of the type of player we want in the program."
"Groves has been around for three years and it is him and (Dylan) Cassiadoro," Vargo exclaimed. "They're two nice ballplayers, but unfortunately for Mike (Granato) Weir High is young and inexperienced. Mike will get them together. He's a good coach and understands the game. He's been around long enough. He'll get his team on the right track before the season is over."
Carnes, a sophomore, who played for the Red Riders a year ago, but transferred to Madonna during the off season, scored a career high 16 points to lead all scorers.
"This was a great game for Carnes," said Vargo. "Any time you transfer from a school and you are playing against your buddies from that school, it was a tough game for him emotionally.
"Fortunately, for both teams it was a clean game, a fun game. Carnes played outstanding and I think it was his three-pointer at the buzzer before halftime that got him pumped and jump started our whole team."
Vargo explained that he continues to search for a ball handling guard to run his offense because of the injury to Madonna's only returning starter, Ross Comis. Comis had surgery on his left hand to repair an injury sustained during the football season as will not be available to play basketball until near the end of the season.
Last night, Vargo started Anthony Antinone, who is the backup quarterback to Comis on the Madonna football team, at point guard and he was pleased with the junior's play.
"We asked Antinone to come in a stabilize us a couple days ago," Vargo said. "We thought that with him being a junior and a quarterback on the football team we took a gamble that his maturity would stabilize us. And it did."
Granato also is searching for a ball handler to run the offense. Cassiadoro did most of that last night, but Granato started Shane Davis and the senior responded with five points and five steals.
Weir High goes from the frying pan into the fire with games next week playing at Indian Creek, a team that handily beat the Red Riders last week, and then going to the Chuckie Mahoney tournament in Washington, PA where they face unbeaten Wash High next Saturday.
Madonna doesn't get much time to enjoy the victory returning to the Dube Dome floor tonight to host Bridgeport.