Moose’s big shot keys Neshannock
Neshannock (64) Vs. Shady Side (63)

By Joe Sager
New Castle News
BUTLER — The chase was on last night for the Neshannock High boys basketball team.

And it ended with a Moose.

Facing a 14-point deficit in the third quarter, the Lancers rallied to post a dramatic 64-63 win over Shady Side Academy in a WPIAL Class AA first-round game at Butler High School.

Ethan Moose hit the game-winning 3-pointer for Neshannock (18-5) with 19.1 seconds to go and the team survived an Indians missed shot as time ran out.

“It was a great feeling to make that shot. The play wasn’t really designed for me. It was designed for Ernie (Burkes) because he was on fire,” Moose said. “(Matt) Seltzer passed me the ball because I was open. I hesitated a little bit and I felt I could make it and it went in. It was fantastic to see it go in.

“It was probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in basketball and I’ve had some great ones, but that is at the top.”

Neshannock coach John Corey was pleased to see Moose, a sophomore, convert that clutch shot.

“He is a very talented player. We’ve seen spots of it throughout the season. He is a tremendous player as a sophomore and he’s young,” he said. “We know he can score for us and we know he can be more of an offensive threat. We have to prod him a bit. He’s playing with two really good seniors in Ernie Burkes and Matt McKinney and I think Ethan sometimes takes a backseat to those guys. They definitely try to build him up, though. Maybe a big shot like that will help build his confidence, too.”

The big shot helped build the Lancers’ confidence. They’ll try to channel it when they meet Beaver Falls (17-6), a 70-33 winner over Brownsville, on Saturday in a time and site to be determined by the WPIAL. Neshannock swept the two-time defending WPIAL champion Tigers during Section 2 action.

“Beaver Falls is obviously a very good basketball team. They have great players,” Corey said. “We’ve beaten them twice this year; we’re an intelligent group and we know they will be fired up and ready to go.”

The Indians (14-9) were ready for the Lancers. Outside of an early 5-4 advantage, Neshannock did not lead until Moose’s 3-point shot.

“To beat a very good team like Shady Side is great,” Corey said. “I told people all week that I wished Shady Side wasn’t this good. They are very balanced. As expected, that was a very difficult win for us.”

The Lancers came into the game with the top offense in Class AA at 72.5 points per game. However, their shooters sputtered in the first half and produced only 22 points.

“I thought our effort was there and I thought our energy was there,” Corey said. “But, when you start making shots, as a player that drives that adrenaline even more. Shots weren’t falling for us in the first half. A lot of that was due to Shady Side because they guard well and disrupted a lot of the things we like to do.” 

Shady Side Academy posted a 16-9 lead after the first quarter and boosted the advantage to 33-22 at halftime. The Indians were on the verge of putting the game out of reach in the third. Their lead swelled to 14 points, 40-26, with 4:35 left in the third.

That’s when Neshannock embarked on its methodical comeback march.

“Coach just kept saying we had to go one possession at time. We had to stop, score, stop, score,” Moose said. “We just never gave up and we hustled and did what we needed to do to get the win.

“We have six seniors on the team and it kicked in that this might be their last game. We just played tough and played really hard. I am really proud of our team.”

Ty Haswell and Moose helped lead the charge in the third. Both players scored eight points in the frame as the Lancers closed the gap to 47-43 at the buzzer.

“It was a tremendous comeback for us,” Corey said. “Finding ourselves down double digits wasn’t a great spot for us to be in, but I can’t say enough about the fight that was in us.”

The march continued in the fourth. Three times the Indians threatened to go on a run, Burkes swished a huge 3-pointer to keep Neshannock within striking distance. His last one cut the deficit to 63-61 with 58 seconds to play.

“You talk about big shots and, obviously, Ethan’s was the one the gets us over the hump, but I thought a couple of those 3s Ernie had in that second half were huge,” Corey said. “It was just possession by possession. Our guys really battled.”

Following an Indians turnover, the Lancers called a timeout with 36.8 seconds to go to set up a play for Burkes. He was not open and, instead, Moose swished the 3-ball.

“We were trying to get Ernie off a pick-and-roll on the wing. That breaks down a little bit and Ethan got the ball in the corner,” Corey said. “He had the guts to take that shot.”

Shady Side Academy’s attempted game-winning shot was way off the mark as time expired. Neshannock’s student section rushed the court to celebrate.

“I thought we had a great following and, unfortunately, we didn’t give them a ton to cheer about until the last 20 seconds or so,” Corey said.

Burkes led all players with 23 points. Moose added 15 points and eight rebounds. Haswell had 13 points and six rebounds.

Kyle Olander led Shady Side Academy, which had won eight-straight games, with 19 points. Mike Ware tossed in 18 points.
Game Scoreboard
Neshannock 9 13 22 20 0 64
Shady Side 16 17 14 16 0 63
Box Scores
Tyler Demchak 2 0-0 4
Dan Marous 2 1-2 6
Kyle Olander 7 3-4 19
Jackson Fitzgerald 3 2-2 8
Mike Ware 7 3-4 18
Cam Dively 3 0-1 6
Charles Calabrese 1 0-0 2.
Totals: 25 9-12 63.

Ernie Burkes 7 4-4 23
Matt McKinney 2 2-3 6
Ethan Moose 6 2-2 15
Matt Seltzer 0 2-2 2
Ty Haswell 5 3-3 13
Jimmy Medure 2 1-2 5
Marcus Giangiuli 0 0-0 0
Fred Mozzocio 0 0-0 0.
Totals: 22 14-16 64.
SHADY SIDE    16  17  14  16 — 63
NESHANNOCK      9  13 21   21 —64
3-point goals — Shady Side Academy 4 (Olander 2, Marous 1, Ware 1), Neshannock 6 (Burkes 5, Moose 1)
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