Mohawk (47) Vs. Shenango (43)
By Andrew Petyak
New Castle News

What a difference a year makes.

For a second straight season, the Shenango High basketball team stood between Mohawk and an elusive WPIAL playoff berth.

Last year, the Warriors failed in their task, taking a home loss against their Section 2-AA foes to miss the playoffs by one game.
This season, Mohawk wouldn’t be denied.

An 18-point fourth quarter propelled the Warriors to a 47-43 triumph over the Wildcats and a postseason spot that has eluded the team since 2009.

“It feels so good to get the win, especially because it takes us to the playoffs,” Mohawk guard Lucas Grim said. “It’s just crazy.

“It was our goal this season to make the playoffs. To finally do that, it’s unbelievable.”

Mohawk fans had twice the reason to celebrate during the team’s senior night. The Lady Warriors cut down the net earlier in the evening, celebrating their first section title since 2001 with a 35-26 victory against the Lady Wildcats.

The Mohawk boys (7-7 section, 9-12 overall) needed some help to be able to share in the excitement. Thought of as an almost-sure bet to make the postseason two weeks ago, the Warriors went on to lose six of their next seven games, including a devastating 51-49 defeat to Aliquippa on Monday that put hopes of the playoffs in jeopardy. Combined with a win over Shenango, Mohawk needed losses from Aliquippa and New Brighton last night to earn a spot.

The Quips fell to Beaver Falls, 74-62, while Riverside stormed back to defeat the Lions, 45-44.

“We didn’t get in the way we wanted to,” said Warriors coach Rob Fadden, himself a former Mohawk player. “But I wanted our seniors to experience the postseason before they graduated. It’s something special.”

Celebration seemed unlikely for the Warriors midway through the third quarter. Shenango (3-11, 7-14) held a seven-point lead, 31-24, after going on a 10-4 run.

“Our defense played great this game,” Wildcats coach Bob McQuiston said. “It created some offense and easy hoops for us. We did a good job of pushing the ball up the floor.”

Down but not out, Grim and his Mohawk teammates battled back, going on 12-0 run to take a 36-31 advantage with 7:06 to go in the fourth quarter.

“We knew we wanted to make it hard on them (Shenango) in the fourth,” Grim said. “Our fans really gave us the support we needed. They were great for us all year.”

Grim scored a game-high 18 points and created free-throw opportunities with hard drives to the bucket, netting 9 of 18 attempts from the foul line. Vince Menichino and Ryan Sager contributed eight points apiece.

The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth between the two squads, until Sager opened Mohawk’s lead to four by drawing a foul with 1:04 remaining. The sure-shooting guard, who ranks third in Lawrence County in free-throw percentage, nailed both attempts.

“Shenango was outrebounding us and it seemed like we were a step behind on everything,” Fadden said. “Everything changed in the fourth. It was there for us in the fourth.”

Greg DePorzio registered 17 points to lead the Wildcats. Brenton Booher knocked down a game-high four 3-pointers and finished with 16 points.

“My guys played hard and I thought they got after it. It was a good battle,” McQuiston said. “I thought Mohawk took better care of the basketball in the fourth quarter. They did a better job out of their set plays, and they were more patient.”

The crowd, the stakes and the records may have put Shenango at a disadvantage coming in, but McQuiston thought his players proved their resolve.

“I’ve been proud of my guys all year. A lot of people came into the season saying that they’re not going to be any good,” he said. “If you look at our season as a whole, we were in every game. We’ve really had a great effort all season long.”

Game Scoreboard
Mohawk 10 10 9 18 0 47
Shenango 7 14 10 12 0 43
Box Scores
Greg DePorzio 6 3-5 17
Brian Tanner 0 0-0 0
Ryley Ferrari 2 0-0 5
James Jacobs 1 0-0 2
Brenton Booher 6 1-5 16
Josh McCormick 0 0-0 0
Shaun Conner 1 0-0 2
Matt Pherson 0 1-2 1
James Micco 0 0-0 0
Totals: 16 5-12 43

Lucas Grim 4 9-18 18
Boyd Laughner 0 0-0 0
Vince Menichino 3 2-2 8
Travis Giardina 1 0-0 2
Gio Menichino 0 0-0 0
John Hartzell 2 0-0 4
Ryan Sager 2 4-5 8
Jonathan Grim 3 1-2 7
Shane McFarland 0 0-0 0
Totals: 15 16-27 47

SHENANGO 7 14 10 12 — 43
MOHAWK 10 10 9 18 — 47

3-point goals — Shenango 6 (DePorzio 2, Booher 3, Ferrari 1); Mohawk 1 (L. Grim 1).
JV score: Shenango 50, Mohawk 46. High scorer: S — Ryan Smith 16.
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