By Sara Welch | Correspondent
Mogadore pushed its winning streak to 12 games by posting a 52-44 victory over Southeast in the Pirates' packed gymnasium Friday night in a Portage Trail Conference County Division showdown.
"It was a good win for us on the road, last regular season game of the year," Mogadore head coach Russ Swartz said. "We're keeping our momentum. We've won 12 in a row now. We're going into the tournament on the right level."
With the addition of transfer students Dominik Pizzino and Eddie Pearce, who sat out the first half of the season, Mogadore has all of the pieces to a winning formula. The Wildcats haven't lost a game since Pizzino and Pierce were activated.
"It's a credit to our guys that are playing," said Swartz. "Obviously they've accepted them, and more importantly they've accepted their roles. When you have guys transferring in they (usually) do that at the beginning of the year, and even though our guys have been practicing with us all year, we couldn't do it until game 12 under live conditions. That's hard, but I give our guys credit. We've beaten some good teams in the second half of the year to be on this 12-game winning streak. We're 11-0 since they joined us, 12 in a row since we had one game before they joined us. We haven't lost and we're gelling."
Kenny Dillon hit the first shot of the night, a long 3-pointer from the top of the arc, for Southeast. The Pirates pushed their lead to 10-6, their biggest advantage of the night, with 3:13 left in the first quarter.
Dillon finished the night with four 3-pointers, opening the first and second quarters with 3s. He was fouled from behind the arc at the beginning of the third quarter and tied the score at 21-21 after a 2-of-3 trip to the line. He finished the night with 14 points.
Mogadore outscored Southeast 7-3 to tie the score at 13-13 heading into the second quarter. Zeddie Pollock managed a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left to tie the score for the Wildcats.
"We were worried about their 3-point shooting," said Swartz. "They killed us the first time. They made 12 3s at our place, and they do a good job of running their offense and being patient with the ball until they get what they want. They did it tonight. They didn't make as many 3s as they did the first time against us. We did a better job of contesting them than we did the first time."
Southeast collected nine 3-pointers for the game. Krych contributed five and finished as the high scorer with 22 points.
The Pirates limited the Wildcats' lead to one possession until the fourth quarter, which Mogadore opened with a nine-point run.
"We just did a better job out of our man," said Swartz. "We were playing some switching man and some regular man trying to throw them off, and it worked. More importantly than that we finally made some shots on offense, got some stops and easy baskets, made a couple perimeter shots, and that's what gave us the spurt."
Swartz credits Mogadore's success for both its victory over Southeast and the 12-game run that closed out its regular season to team basketball, playing unselfishly on offense and defense and spreading around scoring opportunities. Jarad Dunn finished the night as the Wildcats' high scorer with 12 points. Pizzino contributed 11 points, while both Pearce and Alec Tarter had eight points.
"We've looked ahead and we know what's going on in our sectional/district. We've got some tough competition coming up," said Swartz. "We just have to maintain our focus and take care of what we do. We can give ourselves the opportunity, and that's all you can ask."