Meadville Tribune

Sports

February 24, 2014

Rested Cardinals begin quest for D-10 gold

MEADVILLE — Cochranton has had a little bit of time to prepare for its District 10 Class A semifinal opponent thanks to the bye it earned on Saturday as Region 3 champion.

But there really isn’t anything the Cardinals don’t already know about tonight’s foe Eisenhower.

Cochranton and Eisenhower face off today at 7 p.m. at Meadville Area Senior High’s House of Thrills. The winner advances to the District 10 championship game on Friday against either Erie First Christian or Kennedy Catholic.

Eisenhower (14-8) earned its spot in the semifinals with a 56-44 win over Rocky Grove on Saturday.

Cochranton (19-3) faced the Knights twice during the regular season, winning both by an average of 24.5 points per game. The Cardinals won the first meeting 57-35 and the second 66-39.

“We played them twice and handled them pretty well each time,” Cochranton coach Scott McCurdy said. “That can be a blessing and a curse, because you don’t want to get complacent.”

Cochranton’s success has come from various facets.

First, the Cardinals have done a solid job containing senior guard Tre Frank and senior forward Alex Johnson.

“We’ve been able to neutralize them with pretty solid defense,” McCurdy said.

Secondly, Cochranton has been able to make the Knights play its game.

“We’ve been able to play the game a little more up tempo than I think they are comfortable with,” McCurdy said.

And, thirdly, the Cardinals have been able to use an arsenal of scoring weapons. In the first meeting, Garrett Adams led the Cardinals with 18 points and seven rebounds, while Nick Dickson tallied 13 points. The second time around, Adams, again, led the Cardinals with 17 points and 11 rebounds. But it was Josh Vanderhoof joining Adams in double figures with 12 points.

“We have a lot of weapons for sure,” McCurdy said. “It makes difficult matchups for opponents. On any given night a different guy has been able to score. That is part of our strength.”

Cochranton has five players averaging at least seven points per outing. Adams leads the team with 14.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game followed by Dickson with 12.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.

The Cardinals are also extremely hungry.

Both the Cochranton boys and girls basketball teams begin their postseason runs this week with a little extra drive. Both suffered huge losses due to injury in the District 10 finals a year ago in games both teams were in early on.

“So far this is playing out like last year except for the 10-day stretch off,” McCurdy said. “Practices have been a lot more focused. The fact that happened to us last year and we were so close … We have an experienced group back and they are focused and motivated. It doesn’t take much of a pep talk to get them fired up.”

The key, though, is not looking past Eisenhower.

“One game at a time,” McCurdy said. “The temptation would be to look past this one.”

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