WEIRTON - It was Senior Night Monday inside the Carl Hamill Fieldhouse and things couldn't have worked out better for Weir High's basketball team.
Mike Granato's club reeled off 11 straight points to break open a tight contest (there were 16 lead changes before the Red Rider run) and dispose of John Marshall 59-43.
"I told the kids after practice Saturday that our four seniors deserved a night like tonight," Granato said. "I also told them everyone should work their tails off to give them that. They (the seniors) have given our program everything they have.
AS A TEAM — Weir’s Dylan Cassiadoro drives the baseline during the second quarter of the Red Riders’ second win of the season Monday.
-- Mike Mathison
"We all wish we could have won more games but our seniors never quit. They have great character. Teams that are 1-19 don't play with the kind of effort we showed tonight."
John Marshall, now 5-15, took a 39-37 lead early in the final stanza thanks to a Ryan Davis triple. From there, it was all Weir.
Senior Dylan Cassiadoro knotted the score when he converted an Andre Sims pass into two points. Sims put the Riders up for good (41-39), scoring from the paint off an assist from senior Shane Davis. A third senior, Josh Groves, recorded a deuce after a nifty pass from Michael Curtis.
Sims knocked down three of four free tosses and Shane Davis tallied off a long pass from Curtis to finish the burst and put the Riders up 48-39. The fourth Rider 12th grader, Nate Masters, making his first start, stretched the advantage to 56-41 on his drive to the hoop.
In outscoring the Monarchs 24-11 during the final frame, Weir knocked down 10 of 15 field goal tries.
"We just started beating their pressure," Granato explained when asked about the fourth period blitz. "It was a matter of confidence. We've been in that situation the past few games and we didn't finish plays. Tonight, we finished plays. We made a lot of layups. One shot led to two and two led to three.
"The kids started being confident. That helped us block out better, handle their press better and play better defense."
John Marshall's Bill Storm felt the fourth quarter was a case of "same old, same old."
"The game was tied, we missed two dead layups and a couple of free throws," he noted. "They beat us for a layup and that gave them the lead. Then we got into a three-point shooting contest which we will lose every time. We just didn't shoot well (the Monarchs finished 14 for 49 from the floor) and a lot of the shots we missed were inside the paint.
"They were getting breakaways and I don't know how that happened. We were loafing on defense and we just quit."
Weir shot extremely well in the first quarter, hitting eight of 11, to grab an 18-14 lead. Sims (he was four for four) and Cassiadoro (he hit all three of his attempts) scored eight points each.
The Riders went cold in the second, nailing just three of 12, but still led by one (26-25) at the intermission. Ryan Davis and Evan Magers combined for more than half of John Marshall's first half points. The Monarchs were just eight of 19 from the floor but stayed closed by hitting seven of 11 free tosses.
Weir's Davis swished back-to-back triples in the third, allowing the Riders to grab a 35-32 advantage heading into the final eight minutes. Tanner Filben accounted for six of JM's seven points.
Sims paced the Riders in scoring with 18. He completed the double-double by hauling down 11 of Weir's 26 rebounds. Shane Davis added 12 and recorded four steals. Cassiadoro finished with 10.
"After our last game with Brooke, I told the kids it was either the end or the beginning," Granato said. "Our four seniors decided it was going to be the beginning. The last three games have been our best games of the year. It's a time when you want to be playing your best basketball of the year.
"Our seniors are just great kids. They all played a major part in us winning this game. We appreciate the way they have gone about their business."
Ryan Davis had 11 for John Marshall, which entertains Barnesville today. Filben added 10. Magers contributed eight points and grabbed eight rebounds. The Monarchs had 35 as a team.
Weir, 2-19, begins Region 1, Section 1 play Saturday, visiting Oak Glen. The tip is set for 7 p.m.
"I know it's a cliche, but everyone is 0-0 right now," Granato noted. "We have a tough battle with Oak Glen. We split with them in the regular season and they have been playing better also. We have a few days to prepare, get things ready and hopefully come out on top.
"I was real happy for our fans tonight. They got into the game in the fourth quarter and that played a major role in us winning. We need them Saturday up at Oak Glen. They contributed to our momentum. That's part of basketball at any level, no doubt about it."
Weir 59, John Marshall 43
John Marshall 14 11 7 11 - 43
Weir 18 8 9 24 - 59
JOHN MARSHALL (5-15): Och 2 0-0 5; R. Davis 3 4-6 11; Kibert 1 1-2 3; Filben 4 2-2 10; Whitfield 0 1-3 1; Horan 0 0-0 0; Smith 0 2-4 2; Magers 3 1-5 8; Whorton 0 1-2 1; Sobutka 1 0-2 2. TOTALS: 14 12-26 43. 3-pointers: Och, R. Davis, Magers; Rebounds 35 (Magers 8); Turnovers: 15.
WEIR (2-19): Masters 1 1-2 3; Knight 1 0-0 2; Viakley 0 0-0 0; Wood 3 0-0 6; S. Davis 5 0-0 12; Cassiadoro 4 0-0 10; Groves 2 2-5 6; Sims 7 4-6 18; Curtis 1 0-1 2. TOTALS: 24 7-13 59. 3-pointers: Cassiadoro (2), S. Davis (2); Rebounds: 26 (Sims 11); Turnovers: 16.