Neshannock outmuscles Shenango in Early Bird event
Shenango (39) Vs. Neshannock (61)
In the process, the Lancers smashed Shenango, 61-39, in the opener of the Neshannock Early Bird Tournament.
Neshannock (1-0) dominated in the paint as it posted a 41-22 rebounding edge over the Wildcats (0-1). While most of those caroms can be attributed to the Lancers’ height advantage, plenty more came as a result of hustle.
“The whole offseason, we have been hitting the weights hard trying to get bigger and more athletic. When you do things like that, you have to expect to win the rebounding challenge. When we do that, we expect to win the game, too,” Neshannock senior Bobby Nittinger said. “Everybody is focused and we all want to win. It was a team effort and, if one person is not rebounding, it’s hurting everybody. So, as long as everybody’s hustling, we’ll be fine.”
Neshannock coach John Corey was pleased with the final score, but happier with how his squad achieved it.
“We accomplished two things we definitely talked about — getting out in transition and making some things happen there and then dominating the boards,” he said. “We’re not going to be bigger than every team on our schedule, but, for the most part, our physical size should allow us to control the boards as long as we’re getting after it.”
The Lancers rolled to a 19-11 lead after the first quarter. They did not make a 3-pointer in the frame as almost all their buckets came from inside the paint. Nittinger and Joey Fontana both did the bulk of the damage in the quarter as they tallied seven points each.
Neshannock held a 31-18 lead at halftime and increased it to 46-21 at the end of three quarters. Shenango never seriously threatened to overtake the Lancers in the contest.
Brett Chieze posted a game-high 19 points for the Wildcats, who meet West Middlesex at in tonight’s consolation battle.
Nittinger led Neshannock with 17 points, while Joey Fontana had 15 points and Brandon Marinelli notched 12. Seven different Lancers tallied at least a bucket.
“That’s what makes it tough when you play a team like ours. We have six people who can all score,” Nittinger said. “You can try to take one person out of the game, but the other five are going to score. We pretty much have six starters and any one of them can put up a big game.”
Corey was pleased with his troops’ efforts in their first game of the season.
“Between the scoring and rebounding numbers being balanced, I thought it was a very good game for us overall,” he said. “Obviously in scrimmages teams are giving you looks at things, but it’s never that true test. So to come out and really execute like we did was good. By no means was it good enough. You always want to improve and we have to do that quickly before we play Union.”
Neshannock battles rival Union tonight for the championship. The Lancers upended the Scotties, 75-67, last year in the title tilt.
“It’s a great team. Coach Smialowski does a great job with those guys,” Corey said. “The Thomas brothers really get them going. We look forward to playing them.”
Nittinger expects a playoff-like atmosphere.
“We know they are going to come here all psyched. We’ll be ready and we’re going to give them everything we have,” he said. “It should be a good game.”