By STEVE GOLDMAN
For the Star Beacon
The odd quarters were good ones for the Edgewood boys on Friday night — good enough to overcome a feisty Cardinal team on the road.
The Warriors built an 11-point lead in the first half, lost it, then rebuilt it before hanging on for a 62-59 win in non-conference play.
After Dylan McCaleb split two free throws with 11.9 seconds left to give Edgewood its final point, Jason Farmwald missed a 3-point attempt from the left side, sealing the victory.
The Warriors outscored the Huskies 42-28 in the two odd quarters, with Connor McLaughlin netting 10 points in the first stanza. Cardinal had the upper hand by a 31-20 count in the even frames.
“We came out in the first quarter and the third quarter and really played well,” Edgewood coach John Bowler said. “And that was key for us. I like finishing quarters strong, which we did tonight.”
McLaughlin (7 rebounds) led the Warriors (14-6) with 20 points including a steal-and-layup and a pair of free throws within the final two minutes. Post Matt Fitchet stepped up with 19 points and seven rebounds, and also hammered three Cardinal shots, all in the second half. Louie Wisnyai chipped in with 13 points and nine boards, including two of missed free throws by teammates within the final 90 seconds. McCaleb dished out seven assists and also had seven boards.
“Matt Fitchet really turned his game around,” Bowler said. “He was going to the hoop nice and playing big. And he stayed out of foul trouble; that’s the main thing. He’s got to stay out of foul trouble.”
Farmwald (4 assists), Jon Thompson (10 rebounds) and Jake Dibiasio (9 caroms) all scored 13 points for the Huskies (11-9).
Cardinal was without staring point guard Brian Kaser, who injured his ankle last week.
Edgewood ran off 10-straight points in the latter part of the first period to turn a 10-9 deficit into a 19-10 advantage, and extended it to 23-12 early in the next frame. Cardinal responded with an 8-0 spurt to cut it to 23-20, and pulled even at 26 before McCaleb found Fitchet for a jumper to regain the lead at halftime.
The Huskies grabbed the lead twice after the break, but with the score knotted at 37, Fitchet converted a three-point play and McLaughlin scored three baskets for a 9-0 stretch and a 46-37 lead.
Edgewood pushed the margin to 11 three times, the last one at 55-44 when McCaleb fed Fitchet for a layup as the six-minute mark neared in the contest. But Cardinal then put in 10 of the next 11 points, eight by Farmwald, to cut it to 56-54 with more than three minutes remaining. The teams then had three scoreless possessions each before McLaughlin nailed a one-and-one at the 1:57 mark.
After Thompson answered with a one-and-one, Edgewood missed a one-and-one and then a field-goal attempt. But after a Cardinal timeout, McLaughlin stole the ball and laid it in for a 60-56 lead.
Following a Huskie miss, Edgewood failed to make two free throws, but after Wisnyai rebounded, Andrew Konczal (9 points) split a pair with 22 seconds on the clock. Jacob Bosek (7 boards) then fired in a triple to get within 61-59.
“We came up a little short,” Cardinal coach John Cummins, who related that his team was in the hole too much, said. “We gave up too many offensive rebounds. We didn’t do the job boxing out.”
“They’re a very good team,” Bowler said. “I give them a lot of credit; they’re scrappy. I thought (when) we had a nine-point lead, maybe we could bust the game open. But they hung in there; they stayed right along with us.”
Statistically, the difference came at the foul line, where Edgewood had more chances. It went 14-of-22 to Cardinal’s 10-of-11. Each side converted 22 baskets, with the Huskies making one more 3-pointer (5-4).
Thus, the Warriors overcame the fact they missed seven of their 12 foul shots in the fourth quarter.
“It’s very rare that we miss foul shots in the fourth quarter,” Bowler said. “We’re usually pretty good from there. Still, to win without making those foul shits, I’m real pleased about.”
“They did a nice job of mixing things up with their defense, playing their 2-3 zones and their 1-3-1’s and their mans,” Cummins said. “It kept us a little off-balance at times.”
Alec Hill blocked two shots for Cardinal.
Edgewood suffered just three turnovers in the first half, but gave the ball up 11 times thereafter.
“I was a little concerned,” Bowler said. “It’s not a county game. We didn’t have school today, so I was a little bit concerned that the kids might not be ready for this game. I thought it was one of those games that we might be underestimating. (But) they showed up and played hard.”
Goldman is a freelance writer from South Euclid.