Mathews defeats Bristol, 53-50 | News, Sports, Jobs

Staff Photo / Dom Spagnoletta’s Brian Yauger Mathews goes up for a layup as Bristol’s Trevor Mendenhall defends him during their sectional final showdown on Friday night.

VIENNA – Mathews has been on the wrong end of many close games this year. Six of the team’s eight losses have been by less than 10 points.

On Friday, the Mustangs flipped the script.

Down to the last second, Mathews left his home court for the last time this season with a win, toppling Bristol in their last sectional meeting, 53-50.

“We’ve lost a lot of close games this year,” Mathews coach Michael Weymer said. “For us to close one here at home, especially since this is the last game for our seniors at home. We’re going to a neutral floor next, so to get this win for them, we just couldn’t be happier.”

Junior Dom Spagnoletta had his moment to shine in the fourth, scoring two quick cubes in the final minute to help close out the game. He finished the night with a team-high 14 points.

“Man, I’m so happy to get the win,” he said. “I know I played a pretty big role, but all the guys, from Jake Petak, Ethan Petak, all (played their role), all 15 guys. I couldn’t be happier to celebrate this victory with my boys”.

He was also tasked with protecting Trevor Mendenhall, someone roughly six inches taller than him.

“Spags is a tough guy,” Weymer said. “We have a lot of value on this team and Dom was in the middle of it all (tonight). They’re really big, so we needed him to cover Trevor (Mendenhall) tonight. Trevor is about 6-foot-4 and Dom is about 5-foot-9 and we liked that matchup. We have a lot of faith in Spags and our guys that they will stick to the game plan and play hard and we are grateful to get a win.”

Mathews entered the locker room with a four-point lead, but quickly saw that lead evaporate as the Panthers began the second half on a 9-0 run.

Those second and third chance balls that only Mathews got in the first half, were also beginning to be recovered by Bristol. There was a big difference in the energy of the Panthers in the second half and for coach Craig Giesy, that difference comes down to maturity.

“I think we’ve done that a lot this year,” Giesy said of coming back in the second half. “I think we started slow a lot this year. I just don’t think we’re mentally prepared to go to games all the time, being young and immature. I feel like that has to be an emphasis issue (in the off-season). Only the small details, things have nothing to do with basketball that we must do constantly.

“As far as the second half is concerned, we came out pretty good, we made some shots, we got some saves. They settled in a little bit, where they were able to jump, dribble, drive and get a few things later in the third quarter, they held on and we knew at the end, it was a question of who was going to take the last shot and that went down.

Bristol’s season ends at 14-10.

Many talents will return, including rising youngsters Mendenhall and Kaiden Kohler (14 points each) and rising senior Mikey Burbach (11 points).

“We’ve been playing a couple of freshmen, we’ve been playing a lot of sophomores all year,” Giesy said. “Inexperience cannot be excused next year. We’re going to play a couple of seniors, we’re going to have most of the juniors that have been playing for three years, so that’s not a crutch anymore. We tried not to make it a crutch, especially at the end of the season here.”

Mathews (15-8) has a chance to avenge two early season losses as they will face Badger in the district semifinals held at Grand Valley High School.

The Mustangs trailed by one point and eight points respectively in their previous matchups, so they’re hoping the third time is the charm. That being said, it didn’t matter who was on the other side of the group, the Mustangs are happy to go to Orwell.

“Right now we are excited to be able to practice for two more days,” Weymer said. “We are excited to return to a neutral court. I wouldn’t care who we were playing when we got there, but for it to be a conference opponent, someone we’re familiar with, we’re definitely excited about it.”

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