Garrett Knapp

Titusville Garrett Knapp (14) drives to the basket against Cochranton’s Dustin Miller in the fourth quarter, Wednesday.

COCHRANTON — A slow start stymied the Titusville Rockets boys basketball team during Wednesday’s season-opener at Cochranton. The Rockets were outscored 23-7 in the initial quarter of play, while the Cardinals never trailed en route a 64-38 non-region victory.

Jon Gallo led the Cochranton charge with 13 of his game-high 15 points in the first half, including a triplet of 3-pointers. Wyatt Barzak converted six of his seven shots in the paint for 12 points, while Tyler George and Chase Miller added nine apiece for the Cardinals (1-1).

Titusville shot 28% percent (16 of 57) from the floor in the contest, as Manny Perez was the only Rocket to reach double figures with his career-high 10 points. Garrett Knapp added a career-best nine and Tyler Durstine chipped in five for the Rockets (0-1).

Coming into Wednesday’s contest, the Rockets were fielding a new starting lineup and an inexperienced bench. The youth showed at times on the scoreboard, but it wasn’t because of a lack of effort or willingness to shoot the basketball.

“We’re just trying to get better when we step on the floor, whether it’s a game or practice,” Rockets head coach Craig Mehlenbacher said after the game. “That’s the objective that I’ve been trying to preach to them. We’re young and we don’t have a lot of experience, so we just have to try to get better every time.”

The Rockets and Cardinals each put up a pair of buckets during the first two minutes of the contest, as the teams were getting their footing. However, the first of Gallo’s triples with just over 5 1/2 minutes left in the frame sparked a 19-0 run that had Titusville trying to play catch up the rest of the way.

The relatively-younger Rockets did not back down, however, as Titusville attempted 19 3-pointers in the first two periods of play. Unfortunately, only three of those shots found the bottom of the net — one each from Knapp, Kasen Neely and Perez.

“Although I don’t have the shooters I had in years’ past, they can still shoot the ball,” Mehlenbacher said of his team. “They have the green light for the most part. I’m not going to change my confidence in them.”

Not only was Cochranton converting scoring chances, the home team, which played in front of a mostly-empty set of bleachers, put in the hard work on the glass. Winning the rebound battle 39-17, the Cardinals were quick in transition and wound up netting about of dozen lay-ups and post buckets.

“We were slow getting back and we have to work on that,” Mehlenbacher said. “We lost a lot of speed, and we just have to play smarter. At times tonight we did, and at times we did not.”

Down 37-17 coming out of the break, Titusville didn’t wave the white flag. The Rockets posted their best quarter from the field (6 of 15). However, their large deficit was just too much to overcome.

Despite the loss, Mehlenbacher did see some bright spots from his team’s first game.

“I thought they we played hard at times,” Mehlenbacher said. “Halfway through the fourth (quarter), I felt they were giving up a little bit, so I swapped the lineup out, and, a couple minutes later, I did it again. They seemed to respond a little bit better when I did that. I liked some of the penetrations and kicks, and getting to the basket. We just have to finish around the hoop. They ran the (in-bounds) plays well. There were some good spots.”

Titusville will host Harbor Creek on Friday in their first Region 5 contest of the season, which begins at 7 p.m.

Cochranton 64, Titusville 38

TITUSVILLE (0-1 OVERALL, 0-0 REGION 5)

FGM-FGA FT-FTA PTS: Perez 4-11 0-0 10, Knapp 4-7 0-0 9, Durstine 2-16 0-0 5, Beach 1-8 0-0 3, Wheeling 2-5 0-2 4, Schenberg 1-2 0-0 2, Neely 1-4 0-0 3, Titus 1-3 0-0 2, Abrigo 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 16-57 0-2 38.

COCHRANTON (1-1 OVERALL, 0-0 REGION 2)

FGM-FGA FT-FTA PTS: Gallo 6-10 0-0 15, George 4-9 1-2 9, Walker 3-7 0-0 6, Grimes 3-8 1-2 8, Barzak 6-7 0-0 12, C. Miller 4-9 1-1 9, Homa 1-7 0-0 2, Kenny 1-2 0-0 3, Hoffman 0-1 0-0 0, D. Miller 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 28-60 3-5 64.

Score by Quarters

Titusville 7 10 15 6 — 38

Cochranton 23 14 18 9 — 64

Game Statistics

3-point goals — Titusville 6-32 (Perez 2-6, Durstine 1-12, Beach 1-6, Knapp 1-4, Neely 1-3, Titus 0-1), Cochranton 5-10 (Gallo 3-6, Grimes 1-1, Kenny 1-2, George 0-1). Rebounds — Titusville 17 (Perez 5), Cochranton 39 (C. Miller/Walker 9). Turnovers — Titusville 14, Cochranton 13. Total fouls — Titusville 8, Cochranton 10.

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