CONNELLSVILLE TWP. -- The visiting Monessen Greyhounds proved to be a little longer and faster as they rolled to an 83-45 win over the Geibel Catholic Gators Friday night in Section 2-A action.
The Greyhounds (3-0, 4-4) used a swarming, harassing defense the forced the Gators into several turnovers, plus the visitors used their length on the offensive glass to get second and third opportunities that helped break the game wide open.
Senior Elijahwa Smith-Payne did most of the damage for the Greyhounds, scoring a game-high 22 points with all coming on putbacks and easy layups around the basket. Devin Whitlock also reached double figures for Monessen with 18 and Darnel Howell added 14 for the Greyhounds.
"We did a good job of pressuring Geibel from the opening tip tonight," Monessen head coach Dan Bosnic said. "Geibel came at us hard through the entire game. It was nice to see us play defense the way we're capable of tonight."
The Gators (2-2, 5-4) managed to see three players finish in double figures. Cole Kendall overcame a slow first half to score 12 of his team-high 14 points in the second half. Enzo Fetsko, facing most of the Monessen defensive pressure, battled his way to 11 points and Ryan Anderson also scored 11 for Geibel Catholic.
"Monessen was just longer, faster, and more experienced than we were tonight," Geibel's Don Porter said. "My kids gave a great effort, but we couldn't match their size tonight, especially Smith-Payne in the middle. He did pretty much what he wanted in the paint tonight."
The Greyhounds started fast, jumping to a 6-0 lead on baskets by Whitlock, Smith-Payne and Dishon Howell. Anderson broke the run with a basket for Geibel. Both teams exchanged baskets with Monessen holding an 8-4 lead. The Greyhounds, relying on their pressure defense, went on their first big run of the night, scoring the next 15 points to open up a 23-4 lead and held a 27-6 advantage after one period.
Anderson opened the scoring in the second quarter with a pair of free throws for the Gators. Monessen countered with two baskets from Smith-Payne, sandwiched around a free throw from Darnel Howell, to take a 32-8 lead. After Fetsko scored for Geibel, Monessen ran off 15 straight points to open up a 47-10 lead.
The first half ended with Monessen leading, 50-18.
Monessen put the game away in the third quarter, outscoring the Gators 23-6 in the period. Smith-Payne lead the way for the Greyhounds with. Whitlock added seven and Darnel Howell hit for six.
"We just can't simulate Monessen's size and quickness at practice," Porter said. "From what I've seen so far Monessen is the best team in our section. We got a good look at how they play the game and I think it will benefit my kids through the rest of the year."
Bosnic mainly went with his reserves in the final quarter as the Gators continued to play hard to the end and started to find the range, scoring 21 in the final period. Kendall led the way with eight points.
"I was really pleased with effort of my starters tonight, especially in the third quarter," Bosnic said. "They came out and finished the game they way they should have. The guys know they have to come out and take care of business in these section games and they did that tonight."
Monessen 27-23-23-10 -- 83
Geibel Catholic 6-12-6-21 -- 45
Monessen: Elijahwa Smith-Payne 22, Devin Whitlock 18, Darnell Howell 14. Geibel Catholic: Cole Kendall 14, Enzo Fetsko 11, Ryan Anderson 11. Records: Monessen (3-0, 4-4), Geibel Catholic (2-2, 5-4).