Flames still struggling

By MEL PERKINS

The Northgate Flames (0 – 9, 4 – 13) are still in pursuit of their first section win after losing to the Bishop Canevin Crusaders (8 -1, 12 – 3) Tuesday night, by the score of 77 – 30. The Flames were at home, but the Crusaders entered the game with only one loss in the section, and tied for firstplace with Sewickley Academy.

The Flames have taken on a younger look over the past couple of weeks. Led by two seniors, Ray Man-gone and Stephon Adams, the team is made up mostly of freshman and sophomores and two juniors.

The Crusaders worked their press most of the game and used their traps togain the advantage. Mangone got the Flames on the board at about 5:30 on the clock, and the Northgate trailed 6 – 2. The Crusaders then went on a 11 – 0 run before Jacian Sustayta went to the basket for two, and with 1:20 left in the first quarter, the Crusaders were up 17 – 4.

Canevin added seven more to the tally, and after one quarter of play, the Flames were down 24 – 4. After the game, Coach Joe Cangilla said, “We have freshmen and sophomore guards that are getting valuable experience. They are working hard out there, and it’s our job as a staff to focus on the positive and we are.”

The Flames loosened up under the tight Crusader press in the second quarter, and Patrick Weimett led the way when he drove to the basket for two with 5:44 left in the half. Then Sustayta, Mangone, and Antonio Eberhardt chipped in by knocking down shots from behind the arc. Unfortunately, the Crusaders met every Northgate score with a score of their own, and at the end of the half the Flames were down 42 – 17.

The Flames went to their 3 – 2 zone defense to start the third quarter, and Malcolm Randall was clamping down on the Crusaders who came into the paint. Randall collected four of his eight blocked shots in the third quarter, but the Crusaders had too many weapons for the Flames on the perimeter.

Cangilla spoke of Randall’s play after the game. “Randall is out there battling the boards. He had eight blocked shots out there tonight, so we’re trying to get him more touches. His effort is just awesome. He’s rebounding, blocking shots, and he’s leading by example. No matter what the score, he is still battling, and that’s something we hope the younger kids are picking up on.”

After three quarters of play, Northgate trailed 60 – 25.

Both teams played their reserves for most of the fourth quarter, but not before Randall and Mitch Denes added to Flames’ final tally, and when the final buzzer sounded the Flames fell 77 – 30, and were still in search of their first section win.

“There are some things that showed improvement, even in that second half.” Cangilla said later, “We were reversing the basketball, and communicating little bit more on defense. Those are things that have improved over the last two weeks, and we take that as a successful step.”

Cangilla’s focus after the game was on the “no quit” attitude that his players seem to possess, even in the sight of great adversity, saying afterwards, “Yes, we lost the game, but our kids are still playing hard. They are still trying to pick each other up; I know it can be frustrating at times, but they’re still battling. And that’s something to be proud of.”