EAST LIVERPOOL -Hayden Cunningham's season-high 29-point performance highlighted a outstanding all-around team performance as East Liverpool defeated Youngstown Cardinal Mooney, 84-77, Friday at Potter Fieldhouse.
The win ups the Potters record to 5-4, while the Cardinals fall to 2-4.
"It was a great team effort. We finished down the stretch," East Liverpool coach Nate Conley said. "We learned from our mistakes the past few games and recovered from early foul trouble.
Kade Reynolds tallied 16 points, four assists and four steals for the Potters, followed by D.J. Austin and Austin Emmerling with 10 points apiece. Owen Crawford netted nine and Isaac Davidson eight. Cunningham also pulled down a team-high six rebounds. The Potters shot 87 percent (27 of 31) from the foul line.
Danny Martin topped Mooney with 19, supported by Andrew Armstrong 16, Joey Kleeh 14 and Mark Handel 14. Armstrong led all rebounders with 12. Kleeh dished out four assists.
"We hurt ourselves, especially in the fourth quarter," Mooney coach Brian Danilov said. "There were things we could have done to circumvent them shooting 31 free throws tonight, but we didn't and that was the difference."
Trailing 59-58 entering the fourth quarter, the Potters soon found themselves down by seven, 65-58 after committing three turnovers in the first minute of the final quarter.
Cunningham quickly tallied six points in the next 33 seconds to get the Potters right back into contention. East Liverpool would only make two more baskets; one by Emmerling and one by Crawford, but they would drain 15 of 18 free throws during the quarter. At one point, they made 12 consecutive free throws.
East Liverpool took the lead for good when Emmerling put back his own shot for a 72-71 lead with 3:10 remaining. Despite being in foul trouble, Emmerling did an outstanding job of boxing out Mooney's big man in the fourth quarter, enabling his teammates to grab the rebounds. Reynolds made four foul shots and Crawford, Austin, Cunningham two each as the Potters refused to fold, pushing their lead out to 82-75 with just 27 seconds remaining.
"I've been struggling with my foul shots," said Reynolds after his season-high effort. "It's all mental. I just needed to go out there and knock some down. We knew this was a big game for us and we needed to get back to playing Potter basketball."
In discussing his performance, which included five three-pointers, Cunningham said, "Coach Conley gave me the green light. I thought we played very well as a team. Our big buys got into early foul trouble, but Owen (Crawford) moved over into the post and did a great job on their big man. I thought we all played well together and that's what important. Kade (Reynolds) was tremendous in the second half."
"Hayden was something special to watch tonight," said Conley. "He hit some open jumpers. More importantly, he was creating shots for his teammates. Owen Crawford and John Rickerd really kept us in the game on the boards in the first when Austin Emmerling and Aaron Long were in foul trouble."
The Potters have little time to rest as they are back in action tonight at Wellsville. They lost to Wellsville 64-58 on Dec. 11 at East Liverpool.
Mooney hosts Austintown Fitch on Tuesday.
Mooney is the third different high schoo that Danilov has brought to Potter Fieldhouse, as he previously brought George Junior Republic and Campbell Memorial. He also served as head coach at Youngstown Ursuline.
Mooney shot 48 percent (27 of 56) from the floor. They hit 81 percent (17 of 21) of their foul shots.
East Liverpool was 15 of 27 (56 percent) on two-point shots and 9 of 17 (53 percent) from behind the arc.
Mooney won the JV game 59-39. Antonio Bruno paced the young Cards with 14. East Liverpool was led by Zack Adkins with 12 and Joey Bickerton eight.
The Potter freshmen fell to Weir in the opening game of the night 46-38. Aaron Bombich paced the frosh with 15.
Y. MOONEY: 17-21-21-18-77
EAST LIVERPOOL: 15-18-25-26-84
YOUNGSTOWN MOONEY SCORING: Danny Martin 7-0-19, Ross Lanzo 1-1-3, Joey Kleeh 4-6-14, Marcus Penza 0-2-2, Timmy Durkin 1-0-3, Mark Handel 6-2-14, Joe Cunningham 3-0-6, Andrew Armstrong 5-6-16. TEAM TOTALS: 27, 17-21: 77.
EAST LIVERPOOL SCORING: Owen Crawford 2-5-9, Isaac Davidsoon 3-0-8, D.J. Austin 1-7-10, Hayden Cunningham 9-6-29, John Rickerd 0-0-0, Zack English 0-0-0,,Kade Reynolds 5-5-16, Austin Emmerling 3-4-10, Aaron Long 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 24, 27-31: 84.
Three-point goals: Youngstown Mooney 6 (Martin 5, Durkin), East Liverpool 9 (Cunningham 5, Davidson 2, Austin, Reynolds).