Lady Lancers earn ‘nice win’ to open playoffs
Neshannock (34) Vs. Washington (18)
By Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News

PITTSBURGH — The Neshannock High girls basketball team found a way to win last night.

The Lady Lancers finished with a 10-rebound deficit, but they didn’t let it play a factor in the outcome.

Neshannock methodically picked up the flow offensively and gradually pulled away for a 34-18 WPIAL Class AA first-round victory over Washington at North Hills High.

The Lady Little Prexies recorded 19 offensive rebounds and 31 boards total, while the Lady Lancers pulled down 16 defensive boards and 21 overall.

“It’s a nice win,” Neshannock coach Luann Grybowski said. “I was a little skeptical. I didn’t think they were very polished, but they were very athletic.

“I think it was a couple of things with the rebounding. It was a little more difficult for us to box out when they spread the floor a little bit like they did. They would run that 1-4 high and spread it out. We box out much better a little bit more when it’s confined. When we have to go after it and maintain contact, they’re quicker. They got by us a half a step. And they can jump higher. The rebounding was the thing I was most unhappy about.”

The fourth-seeded Lady Lancers (22-1) advance to meet fifth-seeded Bishop Canevin on Friday in the quarterfinals at a time and site to be announced. The Lady Crusaders (18-5) moved on with a 45-36 verdict over Beaver.

Bishop Canevin eliminated Neshannock last year, 65-28, in the first round of the WPIAL Class AA playoffs.

The game was the first competitive action for Neshannock since a 59-48 decision over Laurel on Feb. 6.

The teams were scoreless through the first three minutes of action before Neshannock’s Erin Warvell drained a 3-pointer with 4:50 to play in the first quarter. The Lady Lancers stretched the lead to 5-0 and 13th-seeded Washington (14-9) finally got on the board on a bucket with 1:09 to go in the quarter. Neshannock owned a 5-2 margin after one period.

“I don’t think the layoff played a role,” Grybowski said. “We scrimmaged twice. It’s a little different, though, not playing routinely. I thought after the first couple of minutes we’d be OK. But we kind of stayed in a funk the whole first quarter.”

The Lady Little Prexies took their only lead when Taylor Ellis cashed in a 3-pointer just 47 seconds into the second period for a 7-6 lead. The margin didn’t last long as the Lady Lancers’ Madison McHale buried two foul shots 18 seconds later for an 8-7 advantage.

“I think that really hurt,” Washington coach Mike Maltony of the abbreviated lead. “We were getting a little bit of momentum there, we threw it away at that point and then they hit a 3 not long after.

“That kind of deflated us a little bit. It shouldn’t have that early in the game, but it did.”

McHale, who is averaging a county-best 20.3 points a game, scored all nine of her points in the first half. Seven of which came in the second period.

“It wasn’t my best game,” McHale said. “We worked together as a team. Tonight was a total team effort. Everyone contributed.”

Said Grybowski of McHale, “I think we set some good screens. All of her shots were outside shots. She just knocked them down. Good shooters will do that. You just stay focused and keep going. You don’t worry about missing shots.”

McHale’s second-quarter performance lifted Neshannock to a 17-11 advantage at the half.

“We held McHale to nine points, that says a lot of our girls,” Maltony said. “When you have a scorer like that coming in, we knew we had to keep her in check.”

The Lady Lancers took charge early in the second half to put the game away. Neshannock outscored the Lady Little Prexies 11-3 in the third with Tayler Grybowski, the coach’s daughter, scoring seven of her nine points in the quarter.

“We changed a few things offensively and we tried to go for higher-percentage shots,” Luann Grybowski said. “We got a backdoor layup the first play of the second half, and then Tayler hits a 3. I think that put the nail in the coffin.”

Washington couldn’t get any closer the rest of the way.

“I think tonight we played a good defensive game, rather than offensive,” McHale said. “We hit a lot of outside shots and we just played together as a team. We were always talking out there.”

Tayler Grybowski contributed eight rebounds, three assists and three steals, while McHale chipped in four boards, three assists and three steals. Warvell added four assists and three rebounds.

Neshannock was 13 of 28 from the field, compared to just 8 of 42 for the Lady Little Prexies.

“When you look at things throughout the game, my girls just had a hard time offensively,” Maltony said. “We missed easy shots underneath.

“Neshannock did some good stuff on defense. We weren’t able to get some open looks that we’re used to. Their defense was on tonight. Not that we didn’t have our chances.”

India March led Washington with five points.
Game Scoreboard
Neshannock 5 12 11 6 0 34
Washington 2 9 3 4 0 18
Box Scores
Taylor Ellis 1 0-0 3
India March 2 1-2 5
Mikala Maltony 2 0-0 4
Alexis Ashley 1 0-0 2
Tajah Gordon 2 0-1 4
Andrea Sharp 0 0-0 0
Emmalea Beck 0 0-0 0
Nichole Hoffman 0 0-0 0.
Totals: 8 1-3 18.

Stephanie Paras 1 0-0 2
Cassidy Burrelli 1 2-4 4
Erin Warvell 3 0-0 8
Tayler Grybowski 4 0-0 9
Madison McHale 3 3-4 9
Regan Moorhouse 1 0-0 2.
Totals: 13 5-8 34.
WASHINGTON 2 9 3 4 — 18
NESHANNOCK 5 12 11 6 — 34
3-point goals — Washington 1 (Ellis 1), Neshannock 3 (Warvell 2, Grybowski 1).
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