Ellwood’s return to playoffs a success
Ellwood City (51) Vs. Springdale (32)
By JOE SAGER
WEXFORD — It’s been a decade since the Ellwood City Lincoln High boys basketball team has been in the WPIAL playoffs.
The Wolverines want to make their return visit an extended stay.
They extended their postseason stay by another game — at least — with a 51-32 win over Springdale on Saturday at North Allegheny High school in a WPIAL Class AA preliminary-round battle.
“We have been practicing real well. Our last two practices were very good practices,” said Ellwood City senior Ryan Horgan, who tallied a game-high 17 points. “We came into the playoffs with a chip on our shoulders because everyone is doubting us and no one says we can do anything. So, we want to prove everyone wrong.”
The 14th-seeded Wolverines (12-10) take on third-seeded Monessen (19-2) on Wednesday at a time and site to be determined by the WPIAL. Greyhounds coach Joe Salvino needs only one victory to reach 500 for his career. Ellwood City hopes it comes against some other team.
“The kids know to dream big; you don’t dream small,” Ellwood City coach Al Campman said. “At Ellwood, that’s what we do when our coaching staff coaches. We’re not coming into this tournament to win one game. Do we know there are good teams left? We know, but we’re going to give it our best.”
The Wolverines showed they could be a factor in the postseason with a strong first half against the Dynamos (11-12).
Ellwood City shut out Springdale for the game’s first 7:11 and posted a 13-2 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Wolverines’ offense took over in the second quarter as a balanced effort produced 21 points and a 34-14 halftime advantage.
“That was probably the best first half we’ve ever had,” Horgan said. “We just came out and started torching them.”
Ellwood City was unable to keep up the effort in the third quarter, but settled for a 42-23 lead at the buzzer. The Wolverines tallied nine more points in the fourth to earn the win.
“It was a great first half. That was the way basketball is supposed to be played — sharing the ball, getting a good shot almost every possession and defending really hard,” Campman said. “I told the kids if we could play like that for two halves, it’ll take a good team to knock us out. We struggle to play four quarters and that’s been our bugaboo all year. The second half was nothing like the first half. I am hoping, because they are high school kids, they looked at the scoreboard and they maybe had a letdown. We try to not let that happen, but I think it just happens.”
Campman’s troops will have to avoid any hiccups against Monessen.
“We play Monessen next and we can’t afford to have a letdown in the second half like that. We have to come out and go for the jugular right there,” Horgan said. “If we have a letdown, they’ll kill us because they are too good of a team. If we play like we did in the first half, I don’t think anyone’s beating us, period.”
Gino Ceriani added 14 points for Ellwood City, which received strong contributions on both ends of the floor from all of its players.
“I liked the overall game of a lot of guys. Our rebounders got the rebounds. The guys who pass, passed the ball and our scorers came through,” Campman said. “Springdale played much more aggressively in the second half. I give their coaching staff credit because they kept their kids playing and that’s what a playoff team does.
“I thought Horgan got us off quickly in the game. I think we have a pretty good shooting team. That’s the strength of our team. If we’re shooting well, we’re kind of dangerous. If not … There’s a story behind that — shoot good, look good. Shoot bad, look bad.”