Nitro counts on defense for victory
MONTGOMERY, W.Va. - Defense is becoming Nitro's calling card.
Senior guard Angelo Sirianni pumped in 28 points and the Wildcats turned up the heat on Riverside in taking a 67-52 victory in a Mountain State Athletic Conference matchup at the Neal D. Baisi Athletic Center at WVU Tech. The Warriors moved the game to Montgomery because their gym floor is being refinished.
Nitro (5-3) outscored Riverside in every quarter, holding the Warriors to 33 points through the first three periods. The Wildcats held a 31-22 edge at halftime. Riverside also failed to make any 3-pointers.
"I thought we defended them superbly,'' said Nitro coach Bryan Faber, whose team has won three straight. "We gave up a few offensive rebounds right off the bat and after that did a fantastic job on the glass. We contained their drivers really well, we defended the paint and rebounded. It was a big-time defensive effort.''
The Wildcats are surrendering just 56 points per game in their five wins and have only allowed 79 or more twice this season, which both times were losses.
"That's the DNA of our team,'' said Faber of playing solid defense. "We understand to win games on the road, defending and rebounding are the things you have to do. I feel good about this team.
"I like this team a lot. We've strung together five practices in a row that were really good. At this point in the season, to expect that without playing any games is sometimes difficult. We're on the right track.''
Sirianni, who knocked down three 3-pointers and 7 of 8 from the free-throw line, also received help from senior Ethan Clark's 17 points, which included three 3s, and freshman guard Trevon Taylor's 13 points.
It has been tough for Riverside (4-5) to get any consistency since it hasn't been able to practice or play games in its gym for about a week and a half. The Warriors have held practices at the University of Charleston, Cedar Grove Middle School and Tech.
"It's been a tough week,'' said Warriors coach Dusty Herscher, whose squad has dropped four straight and five of six. "[Nitro] played hard. Our guys haven't given effort for a week. I don't know what's going on.
"I know last week we can blame it on sickness, we had three people with the flu, but if you don't go out there and play hard you're going to lose a lot of games. We played tough against South Charleston [a 48-42 loss in the first meeting] and had senior leadership. Right now we have no leadership. I'm going to have to start looking around to see who is going to step up.''
Riverside began the season with three straight wins and was 4-1 heading into the Christmas break.
"We went down to the Civic Center and beat Capital by 25 [a 73-48 win], then we got shelled by South Charleston [an 80-48 loss] the second go-around and haven't played well since,'' Herscher said. "I don't have any answers.
"I've tried being nice, I've tried screaming and yelling and I've tried my other coaches getting on them. I'm looking for answers right now. I talked to [Winfield] Coach [Pat] McGinnis after our game [a 67-55 loss Friday] and he gave me some good words to try and get [our players] back. To see an effort like [Tuesday night against Nitro], it's tough.''
Riverside senior Nick Light led the way with 13 points and senior Marcus Reed dropped in 10, which was 5.6 points below his team-leading average.
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.