CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After Nitro staked itself to a five-point halftime lead over host St. Albans by committing just two turnovers in the first two quarters Tuesday night, Wildcats point guard Angelo Sirianni chucked a pass into the bleachers on his team's first possession of the third quarter.
Sirianni spent the rest of the night successfully atoning for the rare miscue.
He scored 28 second-half points, surpassed the 1,000-point milestone for his career, outdueled friend and training partner Nathan McNeil in one of the best one-on-one showdowns in recent memory and ultimately led the Wildcats to a 66-62 win at Tex Williams Gymnasium in St. Albans.
"If it was fun to watch, it was even more fun to be a part of," said Sirianni, who finished with 39 points to McNeil's career-high 29 and added four rebounds, two steals and an assist to his stat line.
"We've been going at it in training, and we just applied that to our game. That's the most fun I've had all year. It's fun battling against somebody like that."
Down 26-21 at halftime, the Red Dragons made a concerted effort to take advantage of Nitro's thin roster by pounding the ball inside more to freshman center Thad Moss and junior forward Tanner Aliff while also relying on McNeil's ability to slice into a defense while getting to the rim.
It worked in the short run, as the Red Dragons (5-7) trailed 34-30 when Nitro (8-7) drew its seventh team foul of the half with 3:07 left in the third quarter.
St. Albans Coach Marshall Kiser credited a combination of Sirianni's hustle and his own team's lack of intensity for derailing the scheme.
"A couple times there when we went on that little run they got the ball in and he just ripped it right up the middle of the floor and right by our guys," Kiser said. "We played some triangle-and-two, and we played some chase and we played some man and tried to mix it up, but to his credit he hit some unbelievable shots."