By Pete Chiodo
February 2, 2013 7:00 a.m. MEADVILLE —
It’s been a good week for the Meadville boys basketball team.
After losing three in a row towards the end of January, the Bulldogs have responded with two straight wins, beating Slippery Rock on Tuesday, 65-40, and then, on Friday night, posting a 66-49 victory over George Junior Republic in a game at the House of Thrills.
However, the job is far from over. Meadville has five games remaining on its regular season schedule; and four of them are against Region 5 opponents.
If the Bulldogs — now 12-5 overall and 8-4 in the region — want to keep their season going after those five games are completed, they’re going to need just a couple more good weeks like this one.
“Those were two games we had to have,” MASH head coach Norm Price said about the Slippery Rock and GJR wins. “Big week next week; we have Farrell (on Tuesday) and Franklin (on Thursday). It’s looking to me like there are three teams for two spots (in Region 5). Farrell and Sharon and us are fighting for those two spots. And we need to do pretty much what happened last year. We need to keep going.
“It was a good two wins for us,” he added. “We have some guys not feeling well. So it was a nice night for us, with a couple guys not feeling well. Hopefully this weekend we can get ourselves healthy.”
The Bulldogs didn’t appear to be ailing much at the start of last night’s contest with the Tigers (5-11, 3-9 Region 5), hitting seven of their first eight shots while amassing a 16-0 lead during the first four minutes.
Donte Hollingsworth was lighting on the transition, scoring eight points during that opening bonanza. And Zak Price sunk a pair of 3-pointers.
They played, in essence, like a team whose back was against the wall.
“We felt like we needed these games, because it was either win or you’re not going to get into the playoffs,” said Hollingsworth. “These are region games. And we need to win our region games to get into the playoffs.
“We realized we had to come out and make sure our shots were falling,” he added.
George Junior changed defenses and was able to slow the ’Dogs down. The Tigers answered with eight points in a row, and went on to trim the Bulldogs’ lead to 18-13 two minutes into the second period.
But the Bulldogs finished the half strong. In fact, Zak Price tallied seven straight points over the final minute and a half, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer from the next county over, which put MASH ahead 35-19 going into the half.
Hollingsworth ended the first half with 16 points. Price had 13, hitting four of six attempts from downtown.
The Tigers would then make Price the focus of their attention in the second half.
“They went to a box-and-one on Zak in the second half and that screwed us up a little bit,” Norm Price said. “I think a lot of teams, when they see him shooting as well as he did in the first half, they try to stop him.”
The ’Dogs’ offense sputtered a few times in the second half, missing shots and committing turnovers. And George Junior was able to cut the lead to nine points (39-28) halfway through the third and a few times in the fourth quarter (the last was 58-49 with two minutes to go).
“We didn’t shoot the ball as well in the second half,” said coach Price. “We had a lot of guys get open shots and they just weren’t making them.
“I think at times we just really don’t know what we want to accomplish with the ball. We’re our own worst enemy. We don’t take an extra second or two to throw an extra pass and things like that. Hopefully those things will come around. I’m not that worried about them. But we have a nice lead and it seems like we rush everything. We’re always in a hurry. And I always tell them, we’re in a hurry to accomplish very little.”
The Bulldogs still came through with enough big plays to stay ahead and in relative comfort. Jason Clune had a key three-point play to stop a Tigers run in the third. Hollingsworth sunk a clutch 3-pointer at the end of the third to make it a 47-30 game. And Malik Anderson made some important stops on defense down the stretch.
Plus, Hollingsworth continued to have a good night. He ended the game with 25 points. Zak Price followed with 15. Jason Clune had 11. And Trevor Clune recorded eight points with nine rebounds.
For George Junior, Quamere Boggs led the way with 17 points. Ron Pearson scored 12.