Mohawk holds on to 63-61 win over Laurel
Laurel (61) Vs. Mohawk (63)

Kevin Wrona told Justin Shaffer he was going to do something important to win the game.

The Mohawk High boys basketball coach knew his senior guard was scoreless and hoped some encouragement during a timeout in the fourth quarter would take him out of his funk.

It worked. Shaffer made the game-winning free throws with 3.6 seconds left as the Warriors beat Laurel 63-61 at home last night in WPIAL Section 2-AA play.

It was everything that led up to it — and right after — that will have those in attendance talking for a while.

The Spartans (0-9 section, 1-16 overall), played nothing like their record indicates against second-place Mohawk (7-1, 10-5). Laurel staved off an early 20-13 deficit and trailed only 32-30 at the half.

Warriors’ forward Matt Lorello scored six quick points in the third quarter, putting his team up 40-30.

This is where most one-win teams quit.

But after Laurel coach Mike Tinstman’s passionate talk during a timeout, the Spartans played their best basketball of the season.

A 12-2 run, capped by Jake Dando’s 3-pointer tied it at 42 with 2:10 left in the third quarter.

It was a possession-to-possession battle after that.

“It took everything you had to win this game,” Lorello said, who had 21 points and 17 rebounds. “This was the best game I’ve ever played.”

Mohawk took a 53-49 lead midway through the fourth on Michael Henry’s three-point play. Dando, though, scored the next six points to put Laurel up 57-55 with 2 minutes left.

“Oh, man, I got a little nervous there,” Lorello said.

It was nothing compared to what he did next.

Lorello was fouled with 1:16 left, with the scored tied at 57. Lorello has one of the most unique free throw techniques around, bending his body and jerking his arm before throwing the ball up like a shot put.

Swish. First one’s good.

“I was 4 of 10 last game (against Frew Mill on Tuesday) and I had to at least get the first,” Lorello said. “I shoved it through,” he continued, laughing.

He missed the second, but the Spartans’ Dane Naughton stepped out of bounds on the rebound. Cory Nesbitt made two free throws, making it 60-57 Mohawk with 32.7 seconds left.

This is where most one-win teams stop thinking they have a shot to win.

But Dando and Eric Wallas each made 1 of 2 from the line. The Warriors’ Matt Jura was fouled with 16.5 seconds left, but missed both free throws.

As Laurel pushed it upcourt, the ball got loose on the sideline. Tyler Masone scooped it up and passed to Dando for a layup to tie it at 61 with 3.6 seconds left.

This, unfortunately for the Spartans, is where most one-win teams do something to lose the game.

Masone fouled Shaffer while going for a steal on the inbounds pass. Shaffer made both free throws, 63-61.

In a last-second shot to win or tie, the Spartans’ Mike Natale threw a full-court pass to Tyler Forbes, who got off a good look for the tying shot.

It was short.

“(Laurel) played greater than great,” Wrona said. “It was unbelievable how well they played. But we just found a way to win.”

“I’m proud,” Tinstman said, “but I’ve been stressing the importance of making mistakes all year, and we made some in the end.”

Dando had 21 points to lead Laurel, with Wallas adding a career-high 18.

Henry was a nice complement to Lorello down low, posting 11 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. Chase Frederick added nine points, all on 3-pointers.

“I can’t be any prouder,” Wrona said. “We scratched and clawed and pulled it out.”
Game Scoreboard
Laurel 13 17 17 14 0 61
Mohawk 20 12 13 18 0 63
Box Scores
Field Goals Attempted Foul Shots Made Foul Shots Three Points Total Points Fouls
#2 Eric Wallas7213180
#3 Jacob Dando7652210
#4 Tyler Forbes000000
#12 Tyler Masone220040
#21 Dane Naughton121030
#10 Adam Gibson200040
#5 Christopher Smith200150
#25 Michael Natale122130
#1 Shane Caldararo021010
#3 Justin Shaffer044040
#5 Michael Henry3750110
#21 Cory Nesbitt321070
#23 Chase Frederick300390
#44 Matt Lorello10210210
#32 Matt Jura5201110
#41 Dan Powell000000
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