ROGERSVILLE – The momentum couldn’t have swayed further in favor of the West Greene High School boys basketball team in the first quarter as those dressed in the gold-rush student section loudly remained on their feet.
Not only were the Pioneers staying with Monessen, they were conquering its fearful full-court press and thoroughly beating the team that has caused many Class A schools to panic.
That was until the start of the second quarter when an abundant amount of West Greene turnovers, allowing the Greyhounds to play in their patented up-tempo fashion to defeat West Greene, 83-53, in a Section 2-A game Friday night.
“We played lazy in the first quarter, there was no doubt about that,” said Monessen head coach Joe Salvino, who found his team down nine points after the first eight minutes.
“I don’t think we were mentally prepared to play. In the first quarter, we were walking the ball up the court and not pushing the tempo. We adjusted from that and did what we had to do.”
Not only did Monessen (2-0, 5-4) adjust, it ran away with the game in the second and third quarters by outscoring the Pioneers 50-24.
Monessen senior guard Jaden Altomore, who scored 33 points and nearly outscored the entire West Greene team in the second quarter, ignited the Greyhounds’ 13-0 run to give them their first lead of the game, 22-20, with six minutes left until halftime.
“We wore out,” West Greene head coach Jim Romanus said. “We just had too many turnovers from our guards. We preached the whole time about a strategy and just didn’t do it. The problem with Monessen is that if there is a turnover, it has to be a dead-ball turnover. We had live-ball turnovers and that killed us.”
After surrendering the lead, West Greene (1-1, 5-3) came within one point of the Greyhounds after a contested layup from senior center Craig Weaver. However, a three-pointer from Monessen’s Jaron Youngblood was followed by Justice Rice throwing down a slam dunk while being fouled to give the Greyhounds a 38-31 lead at halftime.
Monessen’s quick-tempo style continued to wear down the Pioneers in the second half as a Lyndon Henderson three-point play gave way to an 11-4 run in the third quarter, putting West Greene clearly in the rearview mirror.
“Monessen is really good at what they do,” said Romanus. “I thought our kids played hard but we only have two or three (kids) who can score. I was just really disappointed after we preached what to do and then we just fall apart like that.”
West Greene found most of its success inside from Weaver, who had 14 points and collected eight rebounds. Senior Zach McHenry scored 11 points and sophomore Nathan Brudnock chipped in 10.
Joining Altomore in double figures for Monessen was Henderson and Rice with 16 and 12 points, respectively.
While the position of battling for an overall winning record remains unfamiliar to Monessen, after all of its losses came to 4-A and 6-A competition, Salvino admits that it not only helped the Greyhounds against West Greene but should assist them down the road.
“I’ve been doing this for 33 years and we’ve always tried to play the best competition possible,” he said. “We knew we weren’t doing what needed to be done (in the first quarter). It definitely helped us tonight because we’ve already felt that pressure before this season and knew what we had to do.”