Neshannock registers road win against Ellwood City
Neshannock (64) Vs. Ellwood City (53)
By JOE SIMON
Ellwood City Lincoln High coach Al Campman had a puzzled look on his face following last night’s game.
He wasn’t wondering when Neshannock took control in the Lancers’ 64-53 WPIAL Section 2-AA victory on the Wolverines’ home floor, he was trying to figure out why his team allowed it to happen so soon.
“From the opening tip,” responded Campman when asked when the game got away from Ellwood City. “I saw no energy. I don’t know why. I told the kids ‘I blame myself’ because I don’t have an answer. We had our best practice of the year yesterday and there was no carry-over effect at all.”
Neshannock (6-1 section, 12-3 overall) outplayed the Wolverines (4-3, 7-7) and fought off a fourth-quarter comeback to remain in first place in the section. The Lancers led by double digits for most of the game and never allowed the Ellwood City faithful to get behind the Wolverines thanks to a 17-6 run in the second quarter.
“That was real important because their fan section can get loud if they get a lot of momentum,” said Neshannock guard Brandon Marinelli, who scored a team-high 24 points. “We kind of took them out of it, and we started to pull away, but we knew if we didn’t play hard for 32 minutes, they could come back and beat us.”
Ellwood City nearly did. Despite trailing by as many as 19 in the second half, the Wolverines cut Neshannock’s lead to eight after two 3-pointers by Ryan Horgan.
They had a chance to trim the advantage to five after a turnover by the Lancers with 2:30 remaining, but a 3-pointer by Marcus McCowin came up a bit short. The Lancers shut the door after that with good defense and some clutch free throws.
“I never thought it was under control — never for a second,” Neshannock coach John Corey said. “It’s one of those game where I felt like the clock was never running. There was always enough time for them to make a run.”
Poor shooting was the main problem for Ellwood City, which shot 18 for 55 from the field (34 percent) and went 6 for 24 (25 percent) from 3-point land. Horgan led everyone with 26 points, but he was the only starter to score more than six points.
Marinelli and point guard John Sansone were the catalysts for Neshannock, which was 19 of 44 from the field and six of 12 from beyond the 3-point arc. Marinelli grabbed 13 boards and three steals, and Sansone netted 13 and handed out five assists. Nick Graziani added 11 points and eight boards. The three were a big reason why the Lancers quieted the Ellwood City crowd as they combined for 16 of the Lancers’ 17 points in the second quarter.
While their presence played a large role, the real quandary for the Wolverines was why they lacked intensity in such an important game.
They’re now just a game ahead of Shenango for the fourth and final playoff spot in Section 2-AA.
“I’m asking myself the same question right now,” Campman said about why Ellwood City lacked enthusiasm. “We never got the crowd into it. Until there were 2 minutes left, we didn’t give them anything to cheer about. That was the most disappointing thing. They came out in droves to see us perform and we didn’t.”
Horgan snatched 10 rebounds to register a double-double. His all-around effort was the only reason the Wolverines were able to mount the late comeback attempt.
“That’s the way you’re supposed to play for four quarters,” Campman said of the run. “I wish it was a 3-minute game, but it’s not. You’re supposed to play with that energy for four quarters. I just don’t get why, in a game of this magnitude for kids in high school, there wouldn’t be a level of energy that was sky high.”