Stumbling block
Mohawk (40) Vs. New Brighton (48)
By Dan Irwin
New Castle News

Riding a four-game losing streak, New Brighton High basketball coach Ken Williams figured something had to change.

After a 9-1 start fueled by the likes of 6-foot-6 senior Ta’Shaun Goode and 6-4 junior Chris Pipkin, “teams were starting to pack it in on us,” Williams said. “We had to open it up a little more. We made some adjustments in this game, and I think we were able to do that somewhat.”

Indeed, the Lions got a combined 21 points from guards Craig Thompson (12) and Jaelin Yellock (nine). But with the game on the line, New Brighton’s inside strength re-asserted itself at last and helped the Lions pull out of their tailspin with a 48-40 WPIAL Section 2-AA win at Mohawk.

The Warriors (5-3 in the section, 7-8 overall) held a 32-26 advantage with 5 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. However, New Brighton (4-4, 10-5) outscored the Warriors, 22-8, the rest of the way, with six of those markers coming on free throws. The rest were racked up from inside the paint, either on initial shots or offensive rebounds.

Pipkin came off the bench to contribute 14 points and 10 rebounds, including nine of his team’s final 19 tallies.

“He plays in spurts,” Williams said of Pipkin. “If he starts well, he plays well. If he starts bad, things don’t go so well. So we brought him off the bench tonight to calm him down a bit because I thought starting him might stress him a little bit.

“That was my strategy, to get him into the flow of the game, and he’s been in foul trouble the last few games, so we decided to bring him off so he can get acclimated to the game.”

The Warriors, who got 14 points from Lucas Grim, played well early on, building a 28-20 second-quarter lead after trailing 19-15 early in the period. Grim had seven of the points in his team’s 13-1 uprising.

Mohawk continued to lead by six, 30-24, at the half, and by three, 40-37, when Grim hit two free throws just 45 seconds into the final frame. After that, though, New Brighton went on an 11-0 run to close out the game, despite a 4-of-10 performance at the foul line over the last 88 seconds.

In all, the Warriors managed just 10 second-half points. They sank only four of 31 field goal attempts after intermission (12.9 percent), and were 0 for 15 in the fourth quarter.

“They got it going, and we didn’t do anything offensively,” Mohawk coach Rob Fadden said. “When you score 10 points in a half, that just magnifies the problems and makes them look worse.

“Rebounding, we didn’t find bodies at all, and offensively, I don’t think we even had guys who wanted to shoot at that point. We’re passing the ball around late in the game when we need to get shots.”

Williams called the victory a “must win” for his team to stay in postseason contention. Now, Fadden and the Warriors are looking at a couple of those themselves.

“We’ve got to find a way to come in tomorrow and Monday and right the ship,” Fadden said, “because we’ve got some tough games coming up on the road at Riverside and Neshannock, and those are teams we’re battling for playoff spots.”

Game Scoreboard
Mohawk 12 18 8 2 0 40
New Brighton 16 8 13 11 0 48
Box Scores
Diquan Ambrose 1 1-5 3
Ta’Shaun Goode 4 0-0 8
Craig Thompson 3 4-7 12
Jaelin Yellock 4 0-0 9
Kalib Williams 1 0-0 2
Chris Pipkin 5 4-5 14
Gabe Greco 0 0-0 0
Kurtis Williams 0 0-0 0
Blaine Williams 0 0-0 0
Totals: 18 9-17 48

Lucas Grim 4 4-4 14
Vince Menichino 2 0-1 4
Travis Giardina 3 1-1 7
Ryan Sager 1 2-2 4
Jonathan Grim 2 0-2 5
Saivon Watt 2 0-0 4
John Hartzell 1 0-0 2
Shane McFarland 0 0-0 0
Tyler Rader 0 0-0 0
Totals: 15 7-10 40

NEW BRIGHTON 16 8 13 11 — 48
MOHAWK 12 18 8 2 — 40

3-point goals — New Brighton 3 (Thompson 2, Yellock 1); Mohawk 3 (L. Grim 2, J. Grim 1).
JV score: Mohawk 46, New Brighton 33. High scorers: M — Shane McFarland 12.
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