The best defense
Neshannock (51) Vs. Shenango (33)
By Andrew Koob
New Castle News

What was expected to be an offensive onslaught quickly turned into a defensive struggle at Neshannock High last night.

The Lancers basketball team suffocated visiting Shenango and its shooters in a 51-33 WPIAL Section 1-AA victory.

Neshannock held the Wildcats to seven first-half points and Ryan Smith and Brenton Booher, the Wildcats’ top two scorers, to a combined 12 points overall on the night.

“I give our guys credit, they really dug in,” Neshannock coach John Corey said. “We knew that if Smith gets clean looks, he’s knocking them down. If Brenton gets clean looks, he’s knocking them down. The game plan was just to, as much as we can, challenge them and make sure there’s a hand in their face. We talked a lot about close outs and making sure we’re in the right spot to challenge those open shots.”

Both sides struggled offensively in the first quarter as the Lancers (1-0 section, 2-1 overall) held an 8-2 advantage after the first quarter. Shenango didn’t connect on its first field goal, Smith’s only 3-pointer of the game, until two minutes into the second quarter.

Neshannock held a 20-7 lead heading into the half, something that Corey was more than happy to see.

“It was definitely a defensive battle, we wanted it that way,” Corey said. “They’ve been red-hot, Smith and Booher have been unconscious from beyond the arc, they’ve been playing so well offensively. So the fact that it was a low-scoring game, I think it benefited us early on. We’re still finding our way here and I think we made great strides tonight to really take another step forward.”

Shenango (0-1, 3-1) had trouble getting its shooters open off screens, which led to a long night for the Wildcats.

“I think it was a combination,” Shenango coach Bob McQuiston said. “They did a good job defensively switching on screens and I don’t think we did a good job of setting our guys up. I don’t think we did a good job of running our sets. When they’re playing good defense and we’re not setting good screens, you’re not going to get too many buckets.”

The Lancers had their own offensive star in Ethan Moose contained to an extent. After starting off the season with a 36-point performance against Hopewell, the junior was held to 15 points, including nine in the first half. The senior also struggled from the free throw line, only hitting two of his six attempts, all in the fourth quarter.

Plenty of others, including Jake Rylott with his 11 points, helped the Lancers when they needed it most.

“He (Moose) didn’t have a very good game tonight and the sign of a good team is, when your best player isn’t having the best game, the other guys around him rise up and meet the challenge and they did that today,” Corey said. “It wasn’t one of his better games, yet we played really well.”

Lancers forward Jimmy Medure finished the night with eight points and a number of key rebounds in the second half. The 6-foot-4 Medure was able to use his size and athleticism to dominate the boards, creating second-chance opportunities for the Lancers and preventing them for Shenango.

“He rebounded the ball well, those are the things that we expect from him. He did it for us last year. We have two guys in Ethan and Jimmy that got a lot of experience last year. We need steady performances from both of those guys in different areas.”

McQuiston added, “I know they outrebounded us, they did a good job on the boards. When a shot goes up, we have to have four or five guys crashing. If you watch the game when a shot went up, we had one, maybe two guys going for the rebound. I think the differential in rebounding was at least 15. If you want to win the basketball game, you have to win the battle on the boards. And they won the battle on the boards tonight.”

A poor offensive showing was tough for a Shenango team that won its first three games, but the Wildcats have to refocus quickly with WPIAL power Lincoln Park coming to town on Tuesday.

“It’s one game in a long season,” McQuiston said. “We have to bounce back, we have some kids that are resilient. We need to come back tomorrow and have a good practice. There’s no break, we have Lincoln Park, who’s ranked one of the top teams in the WPIAL, coming in Tuesday. So we can’t sulk about this.

“Obviously it’s going to bother us tonight, but once practice starts, we have to move on and we have to get better. And if we don’t, we’ll be in the same position next week. Every team is going to lose a game here and there. What we have to do is continue to get better and battle back.”

Game Scoreboard
Neshannock 8 12 11 20 0 51
Shenango 2 5 10 16 0 33
Box Scores
Brenton Booher 1 0-2 2
Ryan Smith 3 3-4 10
Christian O’Hara 2 2-3 6
Matt Benson 1 1-2 3
Hunter Miller 0 0-0 0
Paul Turco 1 0-0 2
James Micco 3 4-5 10
Totals: 10 10-16 33

Jake Rylott 4 3-4 11
Ethan Moose 6 2-6 15
Frank Fraschetti 0 0-0 0
Jimmy Medure 2 4-6 8
Rich Serignese 1 0-0 3
T.J. Scott 1 0-1 2
Jim Powers 1 0-0 3
Frank Antuono 0 0-0 0
Donald Colucci 2 0-3 5
Pat Danglidis 2 0-0 4
Mike Nuzzo 0 0-0 0
Brandon Scheidemantle 0 0-0 0
Ean Oprean 0 0-0 0
Totals: 19 9-20 51

SHENANGO 2 5 10 16 — 33
NESHANNOCK 8 12 11 20 — 51

3-point goals — Neshannock 4 (Moose 1, Serignese 1, Colucci 1, Powers 1), Shenango 1 (Smith 1).
JV score: Neshannock 53, Shenango 40. High scorer: N — Brandon Scheidemantle 16 S — Brandon Ryder 12.
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