Neshannock hands Shenango first loss
Shenango (33) Vs. Neshannock (45)

This looked like the game that would validate the Shenango High girls basketball team’s turnaround.

After going 3-19 last year, the Lady Wildcats began the season 3-0 and were outplaying Neshannock in every phase of the game last night, leading by as many as 10 points in the first half.

All signs pointed to a Shenango victory in the WPIAL Section 2-AA opener for both teams. The Lady Lancers would make a run, the Lady Wildcats would respond, including Emily Makarevich’s offensive rebound and acrobatic layup to put Shenango up 31-25 with 1:20 left in the third quarter.

And then, with no prior sign of life, Neshannock absolutely exploded.

A 22-2 run to end the game gave the Lady Lancers a 45-33 win.

Lady Wildcats: Stunned.

“We just went in the tank,” Shenango coach Joe Gierlach said. “It’s back to the drawing board.”

Neshannock’s run started with an Erika Warvell 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 31-30 Shenango, followed by Caitlyn Bleggi’s steal and layup that gave the Lady Lancers their first lead at 32-31 with eight seconds left in the third quarter.

It was the first sign of adversity all season for the Lady Wildcats (0-1 section, 3-1 overall), who defeated their first three opponents by an average of 28 points.

“We gave a good team a second chance and they took advantage of it,” Gierlach said.

Feeding off the momentum, Neshannock finally began to hit its stride early in the fourth, as consecutive Kylee Patton and Chelsea Kauffman shots made it 38-31, with Megan Black nailing a wide-open 3-pointer from the left corner with 4:19 left to make it 41-31.

Shenango players heads’ sank to the floor after a timeout.

Just like that, the game was out of reach.

It was surprising that the Lady Lancers were even in position to make their run. They shot 4 of 22 from the field in the first half, and trailed 10-0 right out of the gate and 20-10 in the second quarter.

The Lady Wildcats had them teetering on the edge, up by as much as 29-22 in the third quarter, but never delivered the knockout punch.

“We were lucky to be down by only seven,” Neshannock coach Greg Huston said. “We have two freshmen playing and it took time to find a groove. It’s just going to be like that at times for us.”

The freshmen Huston was referring to were Warvell and Kauffman, who both played huge down the stretch.

Besides her run-starting 3-pointer (the first three of her varsity career), Warvell had eight points and a game-high 12 rebounds, including three offensive boards to extend possessions in the fourth. Kauffman hit two jumpers during the 22-2 run and played much better at point guard than in the first half.

Little did Makarevich know at the time, but her layup late in the third was her team’s last basket of the game. She finished with eight points, with Carly Senko scoring six. Alexia Flynn had only two free throws, but grabbed a team-best eight rebounds.

Patton quietly led the Lady Lancers (1-0, 2-2) with 14 points, with Courtney Frengel (7 points) and Kauffman (six points) chipping in as well.

Gierlach knows his team is better than last season. It just might take time for it all to all come together.

“We’re going to win some games,” he said. “It’s a long season and we will learn from what happened tonight.”
Game Scoreboard
Shenango 12 12 7 2 0 33
Neshannock 7 10 15 13 0 45
Box Scores
Field Goals Attempted Foul Shots Made Foul Shots Three Points Total Points Fouls
#40 Brittany Mendel211050
#50 Emily Makarevich352080
#33 Carly Senko232060
#4 Danielle Dado064040
#22 Alexia Flynn022020
#5 Kara Monceaux141140
#21 Jessica Kusnierz200040
#11 Erika Warvell253180
#21 Chelsea Kauffman300060
#32 Kylee Patton4850140
#44 Courtney Frengel321070
#22 Megan Black121040
#25 Caitlyn Bleggi122040
#34 Robyn Dougherty100020
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