Kiski Area boys snap 4-game losing streak with section win over Plum

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Tuesday, January 21, 2020 | 10:37 PM


Tuesday night’s matchup between Section 3-5A rivals Plum and Kiski Area was a tale of two halves. And while the Mustangs started it, the Cavaliers finished it on their home court.

Kiski Area (3-5, 5-1) had four players score in double-digits and turned a one-point halftime deficit into a nine-point third quarter lead before cruising to a 72-56 win to snap a four-game losing streak.

“This was huge,” Kiski Area coach Will Saunders said. “We basically told our guys, if we lose, we’re done. So this was a huge win for us, and we have a bunch of home games coming up. So we have a chance to make a run here.”

Through the first quarter, the Mustangs (4-5, 4-11) fed big-man Max Matolscy in the paint, and the junior forward scored eight of Plum’s first 12 points to pace the Mustangs to a five-point lead.

When Matolscy wasn’t doing damage inside, junior guard Connor Moss was making the Cavaliers pay from the free-throw line. He went 6 for 7 from the line in the first half.

Moss scored 13 of his 30 points in the first half, which was exactly what the Cavaliers didn’t want to see, and the scoreboard showed it.

“One thing we talked about before the game was we couldn’t let Connor Moss beat us, and he came out and scored 13 points at the half,” Saunders said. “I was like, What are we doing?’ He was getting by us, breaking us down, and the big guy (Matolcsy) was getting a lot of offensive rebounds. We just looked lifeless.”

After slogging through the first half, the Cavaliers came out in the third quarter looking like a new team. Their effort was up. They were feeding off the crowd, and they started the second-half on a 9-2 run.

“It was just our energy,” sophomore guard Joe Lukas said. “We started our 1-2-2 press, and it really got them confused and we forced a lot of turnovers. It completely changed the game.”

The Cavaliers forced 14 turnovers in the second half as they pressured the Plum guards relentlessly. After trailing by one at halftime, they outscored the Mustangs, 18-8, in the third quarter an quickly jumped out to a nine-point lead.

Then, they took off in the fourth, outscoring the Mustangs, 23-16 in the final quarter. Kyrell Hutcherson (15 points), James Pearson (10), LeBryn Smith (12) and Lukas (14) wound up scoring in double figures.

“We were up seven points at one point in the second quarter,” Plum coach Mark Marino said. “Then, we just got absolutely pulled at all five positions on the court. And then our guard play. We had 14 turnovers in the second half. So that was the story of the game.”

Kiski Area’s win keeps it alive in the Section 3-5A playoff race and gives a young roster a boost of confidence moving forward. Saunders said he has seen improvements on the court, just not in the win column.

“We’ve been battling. We just haven’t been able to get over the top,” Saunders said. “So this was good for the young guys to get a win.”

The Cavaliers have another big section matchup Friday when they host Armstrong as they play the second game of a six-game home stand. The Mustangs will host Hampton on Friday.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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