By Pete Chiodo
Meadville had control of Tuesday night’s game, leading Region 5 favorite Hickory 29-22 at the break.
Then came the second half. And that’s when the lights went out in Hermitage, courtesy of the Hornets who shot 76.5 percent from the floor (13-for-17), 75 percent from the 3-point line (6-for-8) and 87.5 percent from the foul line (21-for-24) all over the final two quarters while notching a 75-64 come-from-behind victory over the Bulldogs.
“I thought we got out-played in the second half pretty bad,” said Meadville head coach Norm Price. “They wore us down. We were tired, physically tired, mentally tired. From that aspect it was discouraging, because in the first half we were in pretty good shape. And in the second half it was quite clear that they were better than we were.”
The loss drops Meadville to a 3-2 record overall and a 1-1 mark in Region 5. Hickory improves to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the region.
Hickory’s second-half shooting performance was quite a switch from the first, in which the Hornets hit just 9 of 25 attempts from the floor (36 percent).
“We didn’t shoot it well,” said Hickory head coach Nick Cannone. “You know, earlier this year we were 12-of-50 against McLane (in a 44-39 loss). And we did the same thing in the first half of this game. We didn’t shoot it well. And when you don’t shoot well it seems like you’re always playing defense. And against (Meadville), they can break you down.”
Hornets senior Matt Votino kept his team afloat with three 3-pointers in the first quarter, giving him nine of Hickory’s 11 points in the frame. Vincent Mastrian added a 3-pointer in the second quarter. The team was 4-for-10 from the arc in the first half.
Meadville, on the other hand, was bolstered in the first half by a busy defensive effort and a strong performance off the glass. The Bulldogs out-rebounded Hickory 14-8 during quarters one and two. And a handful of those rebounds were on the offensive side, giving Meadville some valuable second looks at the hoop.
“I thought Meadville had some good second-chance opportunities that I wasn’t happy with,” said Cannone.
In the second quarter, Meadville got hot offensively, especially Zak Price, who had a pair of zig-zagging drives down the lane and two long bombs which gave him 10 points for the period. Donte Hollingsworth also had his best quarter in the second, scoring six.
As a whole, the Bulldogs outscored the Hornets 18-11 in the second to take a seven-point advantage into the locker room at halftime.
“I told the kids before the game that we needed to play with a little bit of toughness and a little bit of attitude,” coach Price said. “And in the first half we got away with that. The second half, they just played better than us. And I told the kids, ‘What do you expect them to do on their home court? Roll over?’ And they came back. And I figured that they would. I didn’t expect them to take as much control of the game as they did.”
The third period started and Hickory found a way to stop Meadville from rebounding. The Hornets just stopped missing baskets.
Hickory was 10-for-12 from the floor in the third period, including 6-for-7 from downtown.
Junior point guard Anthony Cannone hit four of five field goal attempts, including two 3-pointers, giving him 10 markers for the quarter. And Votino was 4-for-4 with three 3-pointers and a two-plus one, giving him 12 points for the frame.
Hickory put up 28 points in the third, toting a 50-47 lead into the final eight minutes.
Meadville tried to grab the lead back in the fourth, but the Hornets kept hitting from the floor. Finally, the Bulldogs had to put Hickory on the foul line. That tactic got them nowhere, as the Hornets went 19-for-21 at the stripe during the last stanza, pulling away for the final 12-point margin.
Anthony Cannone was 14-for-15 from the line in the fourth. He finished with 28 points, each one scored in the second half. Mastrian added 23 points with six 3-pointers on 10 tries for the night.
For Meadville, Zak Price led the way with 22 markers. Trevor Clune had 18 points. Hollingsworth scored 10. Malik Anderson chipped in nine.