By MEL PERKINS
The Northgate Flames (0-6, 4-10) were still looking for their first section win last Friday night when they took on the Lancers from Neshannock (3-3, 8-4). The Flames’ offensive struggles continued as they fell to the Lancers 72 – 46.
The Flames opened up the game playing man-to-man defense, and freshman guard Jacian Sustayta got the Flames on the board first, driving to the basket and laying it in for two. Patrick Weimett and Stephon Adams knocked down threes early, and with 5:00 left in the first quarter, the Flames were down by one with the score 9 - 8. With 4:15 left in the quarter, Malcolm Randall grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back up for two, and the Flames were up 10 – 9.
Things were clicking for the Flames when Sustayta hit Weimett with a quick pass as he was going to the hoop, and after laying it in, the Flames were up 12 – 9. A Lancer three-pointer tied the score with 3:36 left in the quarter, but Northgate was fired up and the fight was on. With 3:08 left in the quarter, Adams got fouled driving to the basket and calmly went to the charity stripe and converted the three-point play. The Flames had the lead 15 – 12, but It would be their last lead of the game.
The Lancers went on a 16 – 0 run to close out the first quarter, and when the smoke cleared the Flames were down 28 – 15.
Ray Mangone knocked down a three-pointer to start the second quarter, but the Flames were reeling from the Lancers’ hot shooting. Northgate went to the 2-3 zone defense in an attempt to slow the Lancers down, but it just wouldn’t be enough, and with 1:27 left in the half, the Flames were down 20 with the score was 41 – 21. At the end of the first half the Flames were down 44 – 23.
After the game, Coach Joe Cangilla spoke about how the tide turned, saying, “We had a couple of turn-overs and they got some easy points, and we had some guys get into foul trouble, then we had to go deeper on the bench.” When the Flames looked up, they were down 20.
The Flames stuck with the 2- 3 zone defense to start the third quarter, but Neshannock couldn’t be slowed. Northgate got contributions from Adams, Weimett, Sustayta and Ryan Puskar, but at the end of three quarters of play, the Flames were down 59 – 33.
The fourth quarter was much of the same, but Adams, Weimett, Randall, and Puskar all hit three-pointers to add to the Flames’ final tally. When the final buzzer sounded, the score was 72 – 46 and the Flames are still searching for their first section win.
Fighting through struggles is part of the game of basketball, and Cangilla recognizes the fight in his players, and he is proud that his players fight until the last whistle and the final buzzer. Cangilla said later, “We all get frustrated and we’ve had periods of frustration, however, the team is staying together. We keep fighting and we will continue.”
Cangilla is in his first season and is trying to lay the foundation for his program. He is relying heavily on seniors Stephon Adams and Ray Mangone to show the younger players the way. “It is a process. The thing that is good about having Stephon and Ray out there is that they are being leaders.”