DuBOIS — After having lost a tightly-contested game to Johnsonburg 38-31 on Wednesday night, the DuBois Central Catholic boys basketball team was in need of a win — and in need of one fast.
The Cardinals didn’t have to wait long, as Venango Catholic came to town Thursday night with DCC motivated to dominate and win. And, the Cardinals did just that, starting off early and never looking back, as DCC uprooted the Vikings with a decisive 71-35 victory.
The win was significant for the Cardinals in that it helped boost team moral and improve the squad to a record of 4-15. More importantly was the fact the victory came on DCC’s Senior Nigh.
Head coach Dom Varacallo says that it was his team’s mission to send its seniors — Noah Pettenati, Austen Cogley and Mike Misiewicz — off on a winning note.
“We wanted to play hard for our three seniors,” Varacallo said. “That brought our energy level up, especially playing back-to-back... Knowing how hard our seniors work, I don’t believe it took that much to get our guys excited to play for their teammates. Just knowing who they were playing for got the team going.”
And get going DCC most certainly did, as the Cardinals struck early and struck fast.
Justin Miknis fed a pass down low to teammate Thomas Grecco that earned the DCC junior a free-throw opportunity, which, after converting 1-out-of-2 shots, put the Cardinals up 1-0.
Grecco was at it again with a drive down the middle that resulted in a bucket and a 3-0 lead.
Cogley joined the foray with a base-line layup and John Swalligan sank a jumper to put the DCC ahead 7-0, and though Venango struck back with two consecutive drives by Tim Wagner, the Cardinals would go into the second quarter leading off 9-5.
The second quarter started off with Venango making the first move, with Hunter Lancaster driving the base-line for a quick 2-pointer and pulling the Vikings within DCC 9-7.
But the Cardinals wasted no time in returning the favor, and with a jumper from Miknis and a put-back off of Cogley, DCC found themselves leading 13-7.
The Vikings were resilient, and layups from Wagner and Josh Puko erased the six-point deficient DCC had made. Now only trailing by three and with a score at 14-11, the opportunity for a Venango comeback was certainly a possibility.
However, after Jonathon Kurtz sank a three-pointer to lift the Cardinals up 17-11, the DCC offense came to life and never slowed down.
Kurtz would score another three-pointer and a fast-break layup to put the Cardinals up 22-11, and an added five points from Miknis ensured DCC that they would be heading into half-time with a commanding 27-14 lead.
The first-half saw a Cardinals team click on all cylinders, and Varacallo said much of that momentum came from Wednesday’s night’s match.
“We carried over our defensive effort from yesterday to today, which I thought was key,” Varacallo said. “Then once we started hitting shots, everybody else started making shots. So, that was very important. Overall, we really gelled as a unit. Our shooting was free-flowing, and I was proud of our guys and their effort, both offensively and defensively.”
If the first-half was a good example of what the Cardinals were capable of, the second-half would go above and beyond proving that statement right.
After a quick basket down low from Grecco got the ball rolling for the Cardinals in the early minutes of the period, Cogley would score off the fast-break only seconds later to exhilarate DCC to a 31-14 lead.
From there on out, the Cardinals dominated the third, scoring a combined 22 points in the quarter alone and ending the period of play with a 49-23 lead.
By the midway point of the fourth quarter, it was apparent that the lead would be for the Cardinals’ taking, and by buzzer’s end, DCC would win by a whopping 71-35.
The offensive effort employed by the Cardinals was on full display in the night’s contest, as eight players on the roster earned spots in the stat-book and three players reached double-digits.
Miknis led all players with a game-high 23 points, while Cogley finished the night with 12 and Misiewicz with 10.
Pettenati added in another three, and, together with Cogley and Misiewicz, the three seniors scored a combined 25 points to end their special night.
From here, the Cardinals hope to end their last three games on a high note, and Varracallo says that the team looks to take each game one step at a time.
“We just got to keep working,” Varracallo said. “We’re looking forward to next week. We play in Phillipsburg on Monday and Tuesday, both away games, and then our last game is at home. So, we’ll see what happens.”
Central Catholic looks to carry its momentum to Monday night’s game, when the Cardinals travel to Philipsburg-Osceola to take on the Mounties (3-17) in non-conference play.