MONESSEN — The Monessen Greyhounds extended their section winning streak to 47 games Tuesday night with a 59-56 win over Clairton in a Section 2-A showdown.
“Any time you can win that many section games in a row, that is saying something,” said Monessen coach Joe Salvino. “This was an important win against a talented and athletic team.”
Important win, yes.
The officials called the game extremely close in the first half, as 17 fouls were called in the first quarter, and 14 more in the second.
Monessen was 13 of 22 from the line in the first half, while Clairton was 10 of 20.
Three Monessen players had three fouls in the first half, while one Clairton player had four and four more had two.
Monessen (3-0, 4-6) was called for 23 fouls and a technical, while Clairton (2-1, 8-2) was called for 27 fouls and a technical.
The Bears led, 14-13, after the first quarter while Monessen only made two baskets in the quarter, but was 8 for 14 at the foul line.
Monessen only made four baskets in the second quarter, but three of them were three-pointers, as the Greyhounds took a 29-28 lead into halftime.
The third quarter was played evenly as well, and Monessen took a 42-40 lead into the fourth quarter, but a stretch over 1:18 was huge for the Greyhounds, as Lyndon Henderson hit three-pointers on consecutive possessions, and Isaiah Allums added one right after to give Monessen a 40-34 lead with 4:41 to play in the quarter.
The Bears chipped away at the Monessen lead and eventually took the lead at 47-44 on Keishawn Wright’s three-pointer with 5:41 to play.
Elijiahwa Payne scored three straight baskets to give the Greyhounds a 50-47 lead with 4:37 to play, but the Bears went on a 7-1 run to take a 54-51 lead with 1:30 to play.
Henderson drained a three-pointer to tie the game off of an assist from Cory Fleming with 1:19 to play.
After Karon Byrd scored to give Clairton a 56-54 lead with 1:01 to play, Henderson hit his fourth three-pointer to give Monessen a 57-56 lead with 49 seconds to play and sent the home crowd into a frenzy.
“This was a big win for us and I was able to get a good look,” said Henderson of the shot. “We had to protect our court.”
The Bears turned the ball over with 42 seconds to play, but Monessen gave it right back with 23 ticks left.
Playing for the last shot, Clairton got the ball to Byrd and he made a move to the basket.
He attempted to bank on a six-foot shot, but it went in and out.
Payne grabbed the rebound and made two free throws with seven-tenths of a second left to close the scoring.
“Elijahwa (Payne) played a great game for us,” Salvino said of Payne who finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds. “Everyone who played tonight contributed in a big way.”
Monessen’s last section loss was, ironically, to Clairton on Feb. 9, 2013. The Greyhounds were paced by Henderson’s 18 points, Payne’s 15, and Vaughn Taylor’s 12 points and five steals.
“We had to get this win,” said Taylor. “This is our court and we didn’t want our section winning streak to end tonight.”
When told after the game that his team finished with only six made two-point baskets, Salvino smiled.
“I don’t think we have won too many games with six made (twos),” he said. “But how many threes did we make?”
Monessen made nine three-pointers and was 20 of 34 from the line, while Clairton was 13 of 29.
The Greyhounds are off until Saturday when they host Belle Vernon.