Beakon Staff Writer

Cardinal Mooney returns to the district championship for the fourth year in a row searching for their third district banner in four years. They undoubtedly have their toughest matchup of the playoff run thus far taking on 18-6 South Range. The game for the district title tips off at 7 p,m. at Salem on today. South Range is coming off a 58-49 victory against Perry in the semifinal. 

The Cardinals have plowed through their playoff competition thus far. They boast a ridiculous 220-72 point differential over the last three games, a combined 148 points positive. Leading the pack for the Cardinals offensively are seniors Ashton O’Brien and Jibri Carter who have both scored 35 over the last three. Senior Eddie Nieves is close behind with 31. South Range has been impressive, despite not being as dominant, in their playoff run. They have bested Garfield and Perry by a combined 47 points. Both teams are meeting on fire as Cardinal Mooney has won 12 of their last 13 and South Range has won 6 straight. 

If Cardinal Mooney wants to hang another banner on the already very decorated walls of their gym, they have to play their style of basketball. Senior Landon Moore produces most of the offense for the Raiders, including a 24-point effort against Perry. The Cardinals have shown over and over again this year that their defense gets results. Taking Moore out of the game and holding the Raiders to around what the Cards’ defense gives up on average, 42, then they should have no problem taking care of business. Offensively, Mooney needs to get it to the hot hands. Nieves, O’Brien, and Carter have scored over 46% of the team’s total points in this run. They need to make South Range find a way to slow them down. 

This Cardinal Mooney team has its sights set on their third district title in four years, although South Range certainly will not make it an easy task.