Shenango wins Union tournament
Shenango (61) Vs. Laurel (45)
By JOE SAGER
A quick start did it again for the Shenango High boys basketball team.
The Wildcats stormed to a 14-4 lead after the first quarter last night and cruised to a 61-45 win over Laurel in the Union Boosters Tournament championship game at Mike Covelli Field House.
An 11-0 start fueled Shenango (5-3) in a first-round win over Wilmington. The Spartans scored the first basket last night, but the Wildcats closed the first quarter with a 12-2 run.
“We talked about coming out with a quick start again. I thought we did a good job pushing the ball up the floor and getting the open looks,” Shenango coach Bob McQuiston said. “I think that’s the key. For us to be successful, we have to push the ball up the floor to get open looks. We have some guys who can run and some guys who can shoot and I thought they did a good job of that.”
Shenango used a balanced offensive attack in the second quarter. Five different Wildcats scored at least two points as they increased their advantage to 31-15 at halftime.
“I think we’re at our best when we’re playing team offense and team defense,” McQuiston said. “We have guys who can score. They are doing a good job of finding those guys and knocking down the shots. I thought we did a good job distributing the ball and getting a lot of guys involved in the offense.”
Shenango increased its lead to 17 points, 38-21, with 4:03 left in the third quarter before Laurel (3-5) made a run. The Spartans went on a 10-3 march to trim the deficit to 41-31 with 1:43 on the clock. Todd Fennick, who missed most of Laurel’s first-round win with a knee injury, scored seven points in the spree, while Josh Dando had a hoop and a free throw.
“Shenango is a very good team. Getting down early makes it difficult. We were never really able to get back into it,” Laurel coach Mike Tinstman said. “I was pleased with our effort in the second half. We were down by 16 at halftime, but they fought back. They played hard. Against a good team like Shenango, you have to learn to play for 32 minutes and make the adjustments. We just didn’t do that in the first half.
“Shenango has excellent guard play and that shows. We didn’t really stop them from penetrating. Hopefully, we learned something from that.”
The Wildcats carried a 13-point lead, 47-34, into the fourth. The Spartans trimmed the deficit to 11 with 6:56 to go, but could not get any closer.
“The guys were communicating well on defense and rotating off the ball,” McQuiston said. “We needed to be aggressive on defense.”
Mike Linz scored a game-high 19 points for Shenango. Jeff Williams added 11 points and was named the tournament’s MVP. Jordan O’Hara had nine points and was named to the all-tournament team.
“We have to go back to work. We have another tough section game coming up next week. There are no breaks in our section because every team is tough,” McQuiston said. “My hat’s off to Laurel. They didn’t quit and they are going to get better as the year goes on. You can see they are better than the first time we played them.”
Fennick finished with a team-high 14 points for Laurel. Chad Long added 10 points. Both were named to the all-tournament team.