By Joseph Hayes
It was a game of runs.
The match-up between the Marine City Cardinal Mooney and Cranbrook Kingswood boys basketball teams Friday night had a little bit of everything.
There were high flying dunks, great defensive plays and plenty of clutch shots. But ultimately, the difference would come down to timely runs.
Cranbrook proved to be a little too strong for Cardinal Mooney in that one facet alone, and at the end of the day, that was enough for a 63-50 victory at Cardinal Mooney.
Nolan Julio led Cardinal Mooney with a team-high 13 points, Nick Bastian added eight points and Jacob Marshell added seven points for the Cardinals.
Can Garner scored a game-high 19 points for Cranbrook.
Cardinal Mooney opened the game with a 3-pointer from Marshell but Cranbrook responded with a 13-0 run and never trailed again.
Cardinal Mooney would put up a fight, however. After a timeout from its coach Mike McAndrews, the Cardinals responded with an 8-0 run of their own to pull within 13-11 and would continue to jockey for position the rest of the night.
Cranbrook led 19-13 at the end of the first quarter and 36-24 after ending the half on another run.
“They did a good job hitting their free throws and we missed ours,” Cardinal Mooney forward Larry DeDalis said after electrifying the crowd with two dunks. “That was a big difference there. We have to do the little things better.”
Cardinal Mooney went 7 of 19 from the free throw line, while Cranbrook went 12 of 20 from the strike.
With the game still on the line in the second half, Cranbrook came out with yet another strong surge. This time, a 5-0 run gave them firm control of the game and extended the lead to 41-24.
But the Cardinals would not be dismayed. They would trail, 51-37, entering the fourth quarter but cut the lead down to single digits with several impressive defensive stands.
Freshman guard Trent Rice brought the crowd to its feet with a couple impressive steals near mid-court and Cardinal Mooney trailed 54-45 with five minutes left to play.
Cardinal Mooney (3-3, 1-1 Catholic League Intersectional 1) will return Tuesday against Royal Oak Shrine.
“The thing we talked about tonight is this isn’t one game on our schedule like last year with a bigger school,” Cardinal Mooney coach Mike McAndrews said. “We better be ready. We have to come back to practice this weekend and be physically ready for Shrine on Tuesday.
“When you are going against better competition, it sharpens the knife on your own end. So we want to make sure the message is we competed but we have to be better. The good thing is if we can continue this effort, win or lose, it’s only going to be good things for us in the Division 4 state tournament.”