Lancers silent Riverside
Neshannock (49) Vs. Riverside (46)
By Andrew Petyak
New Castle News

Matt McKinney sure knew how to hush a crowd last night.

McKinney scored 16 points to lift the Neshannock High boys basketball team to a 49-46 WPIAL Section 2-AA road triumph over rival Riverside.

“It was a big win for us. We wanted to come down here and get a win at Riverside,” McKinney said. “We haven’t won in a couple of years down here. We got that tonight.”

The section-opening game ended in dramatic fashion. With the Lancers up by two with 20 seconds remaining, the Panthers’ Gig Jewell tied the contest with a nifty move inside. The home crowd roared as Jewell and his teammates celebrated. That’s when McKinney struck.

“I saw them all celebrating,” he said. “That was a nice move by Gig Jewell. I saw no one was back so I just went.”

McKinney rushed up the floor and teammate Ernie Burkes, who played quarterback for the Lancers’ football team this season, hit him in stride for an easy layup.

“It was all Ernie,” McKinney said. “He passed it right there, and I just put it in.”

Burkes, a guard, had seven assists for the Lancers, none as important as that critical play.

“I saw them all start cheering and got the ball and looked down the court and found Matt,” Burkes said. “As soon as he made that basket I knew we were going to win.

“That’s a big win for us, not because it was a section win, but because that was a very good team. To get a good win in their home place, it can bring us more together as a team.”

Neshannock (1-0 section, 4-0 overall) jumped out to a 29-20 halftime lead. Nine of those points came from threes by McKinney.

“I was feeling it tonight,” he said. “We worked hard in practice. I haven’t been shooting well lately. I was just happy that I got my threes down tonight.”

Lancers coach John Corey scoffed at the notion that McKinney hadn’t been shooting well recently.

“He said he hasn’t been shooting the ball well. He’s a liar,” Corey said. “He has one of the purest strokes I’ve ever seen. When his legs are into his shot and he follows through, I’ll put my house on it.”

Tyler Haswell and Matt Seltzer chipped in with eight points apiece for Neshannock.

The Panthers (0-1, 2-2) stormed back in the third quarter, outscoring the Lancers, 14-8. The combination of Jewell and Tyler Falk caused problems for Neshannock in the second half. Jewell paced Riverside with 15 points while Falk had 11.

“I told the guys their post players are their strength,” Corey said. “We completely anticipated the fact that they were going to come out and shove the ball down our throat. We knew there was a run coming, we just had to withstand it and stay focused.

“Jewell is a three-year starter, as are most of the Riverside guys. They were all playing as sophomores and starting as juniors. I think it speaks volumes for us coming down here and getting the win.”

With the victory, Neshannock remains undefeated on the season. Corey is looking to improve on the 6-6 Section 2-AA record his team had a season ago.

“We’re off to a pretty good start,” he said. “I’m not completely satisfied with the way we’re playing right now, but we have a lot of guys on the floor that are still learning how to play varsity basketball. To be 4-0 at this point, it’s just a tribute to how hard we’re practicing and how focused we are on doing our job.

“Riverside’s a pretty tough place to win. We’ve been talking to our guys about that all week. Last couple years we have not been successful leaving here with a win. I couldn’t be prouder of my guys. My coaching staff did a tremendous job. We were definitely prepared for this one. Our guys played hard. We wanted to be the hardest working guys on the floor.”

Game Scoreboard
Neshannock 14 15 8 12 0 49
Riverside 10 10 14 12 0 46
Box Scores
Ernie Burkes 5 1-2 12
Matt McKinney 6 1-2 16
Tyler Haswell 4 1-4 9
Matt Seltzer 2 4-4 8
Marcus Giangiuli 0 0-1 0
Jim Medure 2 0-0 4
Frank Fraschetti 0 0-0 0
Ethan Moose 0 0-0 0
Caleb Holes 0 0-0 0
Totals: 19 7-13 49

Dom Vetica 2 2-2 7
Bob Gould 1 0-0 2
Brent Mulneix 3 0-0 8
Tyler Falk 4 3-4 11
Gig Jewell 6 3-5 15
Dylan Jones 1 0-0 3
Evan Williams 0 0-0 0
Zach Gould 0 0-0 0
Totals: 17 8-11 46

NESHANNOCK 14 15 8 12 — 49
RIVERSIDE 10 10 14 12 — 46

3-point goals — Neshannock 4 (McKinney 3, Burkes 1); Riverside 4 (Vetica 1, Mulenix 2, Jones 1).
JV score: Neshannock 47, Riverside 44 OT. High scorer: Don Colucci 15.
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