Strong start boosts Laurel past Lancers
Laurel (76) Vs. Neshannock (63)
By Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News

The Laurel High boys basketball team started strong last night.

Neshannock did not. And it proved costly.

The Spartans scored the game’s first 10 points en route to a 76-63 WPIAL Section 1-AA road win over the Lancers. The game closed the first half of section play for both teams.

Laurel (6-1 section, 10-3 overall) takes over sole possession of second place in the section by a game over Neshannock (5-2, 8-4). Lincoln Park (7-0, 12-1) continues to pace the league standings.

The Spartans, winners of six straight, never trailed and there were no ties.

“It was nice,” Laurel coach Ken Locke said of the early run. “We talked about coming out ready to go. We’ve been off to some slow starts over the last two or three games.

“We wanted to get off to a good start and we were able to get some good looks. We got some rebounds and held them to one-and-done trips early and we were able to get up early. It’s always nice to get off to a 10-0 start. That kind of helped us settle in.”

The Lancers have lost two straight and three of their last four.

Jake Rylott scored Neshannock’s first basket with 2:42 to go in the first quarter, cutting the deficit to 10-2.

“We dropped a couple of balls to start the game,” Neshannock coach John Corey said. “In a rivalry game like this with the emotions up, you’re going to expect to miss some shots. You hope not to, but you know it’s going to happen.

“But it was worse than that for us because we were dropping balls and we were making bad decisions. Digging ourselves out of that, I don’t know that we ever did that.”

Laurel led 12-5 after the first quarter and Neshannock cut it to 14-11 and 16-13 in the second stanza.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” Locke said. “Coming in here, they’re one of the top teams around. We knew they were going to keep fighting and keep making their runs. It was just a matter of every time they punched us, so to speak, we punched back. Every time they did, we were able to answer back.”

Said Corey, “It was just a matter of settling down and relaxing a little bit. We had to catch balls. We had to throw good passes and catch the basketball. I knew we’d be OK. It’s 10-0 before we do that and that’s not good. I don’t think it was a sense of panic. We just had to settle down and relax a little bit.”

The Lancers never got closer than those two three-point deficits in the second period the rest of the way.

The Spartans held a 27-19 advantage at the break behind 10 points from Scott Siddall. He tallied a team-best 22 points.

Jacob Wilson was next with 19 markers on 7-of-13 shooting for the victors. He added six assists and four rebounds. Wilson netted 13 of his points in the second half.

“It wasn’t just me. It was a team effort,” Wilson said. “They were finding me. I was getting good looks from all of my teammates. Credit to Scott Siddall, Mason Mraz, Tucker Skerbetz, Noah Wertz. They all played well. When we’re playing as a team, which we did tonight, it shows up.

“The strong start was very key; we came out intense. My main concern was the third quarter. Are we going to come out strong? I believe we did. We let them back in it for a little bit. Coach kept talking about putting them away. I think we did that.”

Corey knew Wilson was one of the main players his team needed to neutralize.

“Jake’s a good player,” Corey said. “When we prep for this team and we talk about Laurel, I’ve said it for two straight years, he’s a very high-energy player.

“He doesn’t stop. He’s like the Energizer bunny. He’s just very aggressive and he’s a strong kid. He plays with a very high level of energy and he had a great night.”

Laurel pushed the buffer to 14 twice (45-31 and 49-35) in the third period before the Lancers trimmed it to 49-40.

Neshannock had a chance to enter the fourth frame down just nine, but it needed a defensive stop to do so. The Lancers didn’t get it.

Scott Siddall buried a deep 3-pointer with just three seconds to go in the period to claim a 52-40 advantage heading to the final quarter.

“It’s a play we wanted to run but we didn’t want to have it that deep. It was really, really deep,” Locke said. “He’s capable of getting hot and doing things like that.

“That was obviously a big shot. It’s a shot we wanted, but just eight feet closer. It was a big-time hit for him and it kind of sprung us forward there.”

Said Corey, “I thought we had been playing pretty well and turning them over a little bit. It’s a play that we went over. We knew that they were going to run it. He was a little deep, but he nailed it and we didn’t do a good enough job of defending it. It’s one of those opportunities where we could have ended that quarter on a high note, forcing them to miss. It was a breakdown in communication and we didn’t guard it right.”

The lead remained in double digits the rest of the way.

Ethan Moose paced Neshannock with 26 markers, 24 of his points came in the second half. Rylott was next with 16.

Both teams were focused on the head-to-head matchup last night and not at the effect the game would have on the standings.

“Our focus is playing well each and every game,” Corey said. “We knew it was going to be a very intense game. In regards to the ramifications to a section championship, not so much. It’s kind of early for that. Coming off the Lincoln Park loss, this one’s tough to swallow. We got outplayed in every phase of the game. We tip our hat to them. They played very well.”

Locke knows the games will get bigger each night the rest of the way.

“We didn’t talk about that,” Locke said of staying one game back of Lincoln Park. “We knew it was a big section game and all section games are big at this point.”
Game Scoreboard
Laurel 12 15 25 24 0 76
Neshannock 5 14 21 23 0 63
Box Scores
Jordan Dantico 2 0-0 4
Noah Wertz 4 3-6 12
Tucker Skerbetz 2 2-3 7
Scott Siddall 9 2-3 22
Jacob Wilson 7 5-5 19
Mason Mraz 2 8-10 12
Isici Layne 0 0-0 0
Zachary Sickafuse 0 0-0 0
Benjamin Wilson 0 0-0 0
Colton Brown 0 0-0 0
Coltin Esposito 0 0-0 0.
Totals: 26 20-27 76.

Jake Rylott 7 2-2 16
Ethan Moose 12 2-3 26
Frank Fraschetti 0 0-0 0
Jimmy Medure 2 0-4 4
Rich Serignese 2 2-3 8
T.J. Scott 1 1-4 4
Frank Antuono 0 0-0 0
Donald Colucci 0 0-0 0
Pat Danglidis 2 0-0 5.
Totals: 26 7-16 63.
LAUREL 12 15 25 24 — 76
NESHANNOCK 5 14 21 23 — 63
3-point goals — Laurel 4 (Wertz 1, Siddall 2, Skerbetz 1), Neshannock 4 (Serignese 2, Scott 1, Danglidis 1).
JV score: Neshannock 76, Laurel 34. High scorer: N — Jason Swope 28, Brandon Scheidemantle 18, Jim Powers 11; L — Coltin Esposito 11.
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