Boys basketball: Sirianni leads Wildcats past Red Dragons
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Nitro guard Angelo Sirianni has a knack for making scoring look easy.
His coach, Bryan Faber, recognizes what he has in last season's top scorer in the Mountain State Athletic Conference.
"I'll take every uncontested, balanced look he's going to get," said Faber after Sirianni scored 21 points to lead the Wildcats to a 61-50 victory over St. Albans (0-4) in a battle of shorthanded rivals.
A quick release, jab step to keep defenders honest and invariable confidence to fire away makes Sirianni dangerous.
Limited chances - like 14 shots - make him manageable.
In fact, Sirianni had only two attempts in the third quarter after draining a 3 with 1 second left in the first half to give Nitro a 35-28 lead.
"There were times in the game when we really did a nice job on him," said St. Albans Coach Marshall Kiser, whose team will get another crack at Nitro on Jan. 22. "There were times that we just let him loose; we didn't keep our defensive patience.
"We kept him at arm's length, then in the fourth quarter he hits a 3, a 2, hits two foul shots. He hadn't exploded on us at any time."
His final 3 followed a putback from St. Albans' Taylor Clark that cut the lead to six with 5 minutes remaining. His foul shots extended an eight-point lead to 10 (53-43), and he concluded his scoring with a basket to give Nitro (3-3) a 57-47 edge at the 1:13 mark.
J.P. Mawyer finished with 13 points, going 6-for-6 in the fourth quarter to hold St. Albans at bay, Trevon Taylor had 10 and Ethan Clark had two of Nitro's seven 3-pointers, including one that banked in.
Those were the relatively healthy players.
The rivals played in a packed Nitro High School gymnasium without the services of key elements.
St. Albans forward Thad Moss is on crutches with a severely sprained ankle, and some of his teammates - including senior guard Nathan McNeil - have been fighting the flu. McNeil finished with a team-high 17 points, many coming in the open court when he's at his best.
Nitro was without junior Tyler Barton, who twisted an ankle in practice on Wednesday. Senior Sam Neff is battling mononucleosis and is out indefinitely. The Wildcats also had to sit forward Hunter Ferrari after he picked up his second foul with 3:51 left in the first quarter.
"We're very good right now," Sirianni said. "In talking before the game, coach said his favorite part about coaching is figuring out how to make us just as good as we were with the players that are out right now and he's doing a pretty good job at it."
The injuries made both teams smaller, and St. Albans forward Tanner Aliff benefited the most on the boards with a game-high 12 rebounds. The Red Dragons outrebounded Nitro 30-19 overall and 7-2 on the offensive end, but couldn't convert those to points.
"The post is wide open, the only time we didn't get anything is when we made a poor post feed," said Kiser, whose forwards Aliff and Kevic Watkins combined for 15 points on a respectable 6-of-13 shooting. "It's wide open, but we can't see it if we're catching the ball, putting our head down and driving the ball to the basket."
The game featured only two ties, the last one coming at 6-6, followed by a 12-3 Nitro run to close out the first quarter.
Taylor Clark had 10 points and Quamise Carter led the game's reserves with six points, all in the third quarter. He contributed a pair of assists, both on the post feeds that Kiser sought all night.
Nitro stays at home for Saturday's 7:30 p.m. contest with Sissonville before taking nine days off prior to a Jan. 8 game at Riverside.
St. Albans begins a four-game homestand on Saturday against Cabell Midland.
In other boys action:
Ripley 69, Lewis County 64 - Kade Harrison poured in a game-high 28 points and Casey Smith added 20 to lead the Vikings (2-3) to a win in the Lewis County Holiday Classic.
John Riley had 20 points for the Minutemen (3-2).
Elkins 52, Oak Hill 50 - L.J. Lawrence had 17 points as the Tigers (6-0) edged the Red Devils (2-2) at the Lewis County Holiday Classic.
Logan Phillips had 15 points and Colby Gainer had 13 for Elkins.
For Oak Hill, Kyalo Bradford had 12 points.
Elkins will face Ripley, followed by Lewis County playing Oakhill.
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4837.