By Sara Welch | Correspondent
The Mogadore Wildcats, the defending Struthers Division IV District champions, opened defense of their title by defeating Sebring McKinley 78-36 in a Struthers Division IV Sectional final Friday night at Struthers Fieldhouse.
"It's the first tournament game of the year for us," Mogadore coach Russ Swartz said. "We just wanted to come out and play very hard and physical. We did, and we shared the ball really well. We got a lot of guys in the scoring column and we were obviously pleased with our defense.
"All around it was a pretty good game, especially for our first one of the tournament."
Mogadore (19-4) advances in the tournament to face Youngstown Christian in the Struthers District semifinals Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Struthers Fieldhouse. Youngstown Christian defeated Salineville Southern 53-43 in the second game of Friday night's sectional final doubleheader.
A 17-0 scoring run that started with 5:51 left in the first quarter pushed the Wildcats to an insurmountable lead over Sebring. Mogadore closed the run with back-to-back 3-pointers by senior guard Austin Mahoney and a 2-point pickup from senior forward Gary Strain.
The Trojans managed to score one last basket before the second quarter began as they trailed the Wildcats 20-5 after one quarter.
"We're loaded with eight seniors and I thought they all did a nice job," Swartz said. "They're very unselfish. We had most of our guys score. I thought our point guard, Jake Cramer, really did a nice job of handling the ball and giving it up. He had a lot of assists. It's typical for us. We're very unselfish."
The contributions from Mogadore's seniors included: Cramer with eight points and eight assists, scoring leader Hunter Van Camp with 15 points, Austin Pierce with nine points, Evan Uhalley with nine points, Brandon Morris with six points and eight rebounds, Kasey Beard with six points, Mahoney with 11 points, and Strain led on the boards with 13 rebounds and scored eight points.
Collectively, the Wildcats' seniors accounted for 72 of the team's 78 points.
Mogadore blazed its way to a 41-13 lead at halftime, refusing to surrender any of its momentum to Sebring.
The Wildcats then outscored the Trojans 22-11 and 15-12 in the final two quarters, respectively.
Remaining assertive on defense for the duration of the game, the Wildcats snatched 14 steals and forced 20 turnovers. Additionally, Mogadore collected 46 rebounds to Sebring McKinley's 32.
While they revel in the success of their first postseason triumph, the Wildcats understand they've got adjustments to make before their next game if they want to repeat last year's accomplishment.
"Before our next game we've got to work against pressure because we know how athletic and quick Youngstown Christian is," Swartz said. "We've got a lot of things to work on here to get ready for Tuesday."