Riverside tops ’Cats, on brink of title
Riverside (56) Vs. Shenango (53)

The Riverside High boys basketball team took another step toward a section title last night.

The Panthers rallied from a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter and held off a spirited Shenango finish for a tough WPIAL Section 2-AA road win, 56-53.

“I’m very pleased to come in here and beat a good team like this,” Riverside coach John Rorick said. “It’s always big to win on the road.”

Shenango (4-5 section, 12-8 overall) is the two-time defending section champion and has claimed the crown three of the last four years. The Wildcats are still alive for the fourth and final playoff spot, holding a one-game lead over Neshannock.

“We have to get a couple of wins down the stretch,” Shenango coach Bob McQuiston said. “Fortunately they take four teams, but by no means do we have a lock on anything.”

Riverside (10-0, 18-1) can secure at least a share of the title with a win over Summit Academy on Friday. The Panthers will own it outright if Shenango knocks off Mohawk on the same night.

Jake Wickline’s basket with 1:38 left gave the Panthers the lead for good at 54-53.

Mike Murcko, who led the Wildcats with a career-high 21 points, missed a pair of foul shots with 1:13 remaining. However, Mason Marion threw the ball away after the rebound six seconds later and Shenango took over at center court.

Riverside’s Ryan Ard deflected a pass and Shane Rusnock retrieved the ball and drove the length of the floor for a layup with 16 seconds left to make it 56-53.

“We’re finding ways to win,” Rorick said. “These guys seem to come out fighting when they get their backs to the wall.”

Shenango’s Bryan Chieze launched a 3-pointer that rolled off the rim and Andrew Watson grabbed the rebound and was fouled with seven seconds left. Watson missed the front-end of the one-and-one and Chieze chased down the loose ball.

Chieze raced back behind the arc and fired a 3-pointer that was off the mark and the Panthers survived.

“It’s definitely a tough shot,” McQuiston said of Chieze’s last-second attempt. “He did a good job of chasing it down and getting a shot off.

“In that situation that’s the best you can do... it just didn’t fall.”

Said Chieze, “It’s tough losing like that. We had a big lead and they got back in it and took the lead. We couldn’t overcome that.”

Murcko scored 13 points in the third quarter when the Wildcats took over. Shenango’s biggest lead of the game was eight points on two occasions, the last coming at 44-36 with 1:02 to play in the third quarter.

“I thought Mike played well,” McQuiston said. “He hit a lot of big shots and the guys were seeing him open; he did a really good job in the third quarter.”

The Wildcats trailed the entire first half until Watson buried a 3-pointer with 56 seconds to go for a 24-24 tie. Watson missed a 3-pointer with two seconds left, but James Vournous pulled down the rebound and laid it in at the buzzer for Shenango’s first lead at 26-24.

“It definitely gave us a boost going into the half,” McQuiston said. “It was a good play by him to come off the bench cold and get the basket.”

Watson followed Murcko’s effort with 12 points. Chieze handed out nine assists and Rich Gaston snared seven rebounds. Gaston, the county’s leading scorer at 18.8 points per game, was held to just six.

Jason Kolesar led Riverside with 19 points and Wickline, shaking off a slight ankle injury sustained Friday against Rochester, had 15.
Game Scoreboard
Riverside 16 8 13 19 0 56
Shenango 12 14 18 9 0 53
Box Scores
Field Goals Attempted Foul Shots Made Foul Shots Three Points Total Points Fouls
Jason Kolesar7650190
Jake Wickline5950190
Mason Marion5004140
Mike Vucelich130020
Shane Rusnock221050
Nico Baldelli041010
Ryan Ard000000
Brian Chieze300060
Rich Gaston164060
Jesse Noca000000
Andrew Watson4104120
Rick Ferrari000000
Ryan Tanner200260
Mike Murcko10201210
James Vournous100020
Chris Grant000000
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