Lombardo gets win No. 500, Rountree nets 1,000th point as Crusaders and Hearts split hoop meetings

Holy Cross head coach Frank Lombardo huddles with his starters before
the 2017 Class L state final at Mohegan Sun Arena. Lombardo picked up
his 500th career win on Wednesday night. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69, 2017 file)

Most coaches don’t begin their careers striving for a milestone like 500 wins.
Holy Cross head girls coach Frank Lombardo reached the 500-win plateau in his 24th season with a 60-49 victory over Sacred Heart on Wednesday night at The Pit. The Hearts have high ambitions this season, but the road to NVL glory still goes through the Crusaders.
Holy Cross has been led by the monster duo of Meah Austin and Aiyana Ward, and nothing changed Wednesday. Austin had game-highs of 21 points and 21 rebounds and Ward tallied 18 points and 15 rebounds. It was too much for Sacred Heart to overcome.
The Crusaders assumed control in the first half, claiming a 27-14 halftime lead. The Hearts got the deficit down to single digits at nine points, but couldn’t get any closer. Treasure Coleman led Sacred Heart with 19 points while Aamya Rivera had 16.
Holy Cross joined St. Paul at 6-1 while Sacred Heart fell to 5-2. The other loss for the Hearts was to the Falcons.
For future reference, St. Paul hosts Holy Cross on Friday, Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. The second meeting of the Crusaders and Hearts is on Friday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. at Alumni Hall.

Isiah Gaiter. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69, 2017 file)

Sacred Heart boys 65, Holy Cross 57: Both teams admitted after Wednesday night’s game at Alumni Hall that there is more work to be done.
Isiah Gaiter and his game-high 39 points made sure Sacred Heart ended the night with a victory, albeit a sluggish one with both teams coming off of a holiday break. Gaiter was immense for the Hearts, affecting the game with his scoring, rebounding and passing. Raheem Solomon added 10 points, including a nice one-handed dunk off a Gaiter assist.

Nyzair Rountree.
(Copyright, Sports on CT-69, 2017 file)

Nyzair Rountree (14 points) wasn’t the high scorer for Holy Cross — that would be former Heart Mikey West with 22 points — but the senior had a big personal highlight when he scored his 1,000th point. Rountree focused on his team’s loss after the game. To be fair to the Crusaders, regular starters Marcellus Gomes and Jack Greene were out of the lineup with injuries.
Sacred Heart improved to 3-0, but faces another test on Friday at Waterbury Career Academy (4-0). Holy Cross hosts a Kennedy team sure to be irritated after a rough home loss to Wilby on Wednesday. That game is also on Friday.
The Hearts head to Long Island Lutheran High School on Saturday for the LuHi Invitational. They play the Eagle Academy for Young Men from the Bronx at 2:30 p.m.
Again for future reference: The second game between Sacred Heart and Holy Cross is on Friday, Feb. 9 at 7 p.m. at The Pit.