WEIRTON - After losing about 80 percent of his scoring from a year ago to graduation and with one of the players he was counting on sitting on the bench in street clothes, veteran Weir coach Mike Granato wasn't expecting much from his Red Riders in their season opener against North Marion.
Despite losing 52-37 to the Huskies who are in their first year of competition in Class AA after declining enrollment moved them down a notch from Class AAA, Granato was pleased with his team's performance.
"We showed great improvement from our scrimmages," Granato said. "This wasn't a 15-point game. It was more like a six- or seven-point game until we had to begin fouling going down the stretch. I can't tell you how pleased I was with the way my team played against a team that was bigger than us in all five positions."
The game had the appearance of a runaway in the first quarter as the Red Riders managed to score four points on field goals by their two senior starters, Dylan Cassiadoro and Josh Groves. North Marion appeared to be on its way to a blowout leading 13-4 after the first period. A big factor was a stingy full court press that the Huskies applied forcing five first-period turnovers by the Red Riders.
Perhaps it was opening- game jitters for the Riders because they seemed to settle down in the second period and even though they were outscored by two points, shots were going in and Red Riders were taking the ball to the basket.
North Marion took a 28-17 lead into halftime.
Things changed in the third quarter as the Red Riders outscored the Huskies 16-9 and got to within four points at 37-33 going into the final stanza.