SARASOTA -- The Cardinal Mooney and Bradenton Christian boys basketball teams have different agendas.
The host Cougars entered Tuesday night's game with a 16-1 record and are eyeing a deep run in the postseason.
Bradenton Christian starts three freshmen, and every game is a learning experience.
The Panthers (6-9) just want to get better, but stood toe to toe with the Cougars halfway into the second quarter, trailing 23-21.
Mooney's experience and overall talent eventually took over, and the Cougars rolled to an 87-44 Class 3A-District 10 victory. Cardinal Mooney has the top seed locked up for the district tournament. Bradenton Christian is hoping to get the No. 2 seed.
Antonio Blakeney led Cardinal Mooney with 24 points on 10-for-17 shooting, but the Cougars got a lot of contributions from a lot of different people.
The Cougars came up with 17 steals, dished out 25 assists and got 10 rebounds and seven points from Matt Hueston. The 6-foot-7 junior had five rebounds in the third quarter, when Mooney broke the game open.
"I was just trying to box out, and the ball came my
way," Hueston said. "Anytime the ball is up there I am going to try and get the rebound for my team. They played great early. They kept us out of our offense, and it's hard to get offensive rebounds when you don't have many chances. We started getting fast-break opportunities, and once we do that it's hard stop us."
For Mooney, Jamie Glasser had 11 points; Ryan McMahon came up with four steals, dished out eight assists and scored eight points; Justin Najmy had seven points and three assists; and Blair Perry tallied 11 points and had three steals.
"We struggled a little bit coming out of the chute in the beginning of the game, but give Bradenton Christian credit. They slowed us down and did a great job of executing their half-court offense," Cardinal Mooney head coach Stefan Gates said. "They were very patient and disciplined and got us back door a couple of times. Our kids responded late in the first half and in the second half. We were able to create some easy offense with our defense, and that got us going."
Bradenton Christian had three players in double figures. Nick Scheimann led the way with 12 points. Coleman Barber had 11 points, freshman Jake Lister chipped in 10, and freshman Ryan Leunk contributed nine points.
"We had a good game plan, and it worked early. We knew we couldn't run with these guys and just tried to slow it down and play smart basketball," Bradenton Christian head coach Scott Townsend said. "We tried to make them play defense and tried to wear them down, but we ran out of juice and they hit some big shots. It's hard to play slow down when you don't have the lead. But we are growing and it's a good game for us to learn from."
Mooney connected on 35 of 59 shots while the Panthers were 10 for 39 and committed 21 turnovers. The Cougars dropped in 11 of 17 from beyond the arc Bradenton Christian was 3-for-7 from 3-point land.
Bradenton Christian connected on 6 of 9 first-quarter shots, and finished the first period deadlocked at 15. In the last minute of the first half, Glasser hit back-to-back treys, and Blakeney got a fast-break layup as the Cougars started to pull away and led 41-26 at intermission.