Aloi there!
Lincoln Park (78) Vs. Mohawk (44)
By Andrew Koob
New Castle News

Nick Aloi walked to the scorers’ table and patiently waited for the next dead ball to check into the game.

He had bided his time over a year and a half for this moment. What’s another minute?

The Lincoln Park junior guard and former Ellwood City Lincoln star saw his first meaningful action since May, 2013 in the Leopards’ 78-44 victory over WPIAL Section 1-AA opponent Mohawk.

Aloi tore his anterior cruciate ligament during the 2013 AAU season, then was at the mercy of a WPIAL and PIAA ruling that declared him ineligible to play with Lincoln Park for a full year since the transfer was submitted on Jan. 21, 2014.

The Leopards took the floor for the first time since he was reinstated. Aloi followed with 3:06 left in the first quarter.

“Anytime you play a basketball game, you’ll have some jitters, especially after not playing for awhile,” Aloi said. “I felt like I did my first game freshman year.”

Aloi was rusty at first, trying to get into the flow of Lincoln Park’s fast-paced offense. He settled in nicely and finished with 14 points.

“All you can think about is getting back into the game, trying to help your team win,” Aloi said. “The jitters were flying the first few minutes of the game. Antonio (Kellem) hit me with a great pass to get me a layup, that got me into the game and rolling.”

His stat line won’t jump out, but, after the long hiatus that he took, Lincoln Park coach Mike Bariski was more than impressed.

“Imagine sitting all of that time and then coming out, scoring 14 points,” Bariski said. “He is a steady player. He’s a steady, heads-up, intelligent player. His basketball IQ is off the roof. As we go on, he’s not going to make the mistakes that he did tonight. Not that he made a lot of mistakes, but he’s a guy that can play a perfect basketball game for you. He was in the right place defensively. He’s not used to the rotation we have, but I’m not worried about that.”

The Leopards (10-0 section, 16-1 overall) looked rusty as a whole in the first half, turning the ball over on their first three possessions and allowing Mohawk to stay in the game for the first 16 minutes.

Zach Shasteen helped keep the Warriors (0-10, 1-17) in it, scoring 12 of his team-high 21 points in the second quarter. He and the Leopards’ Nellie Cummings, who tallied a game-high 23 points, traded buckets while Lincoln Park tried to keep its double-digit lead intact.

That didn’t last long, however, thanks to a Lincoln Park 23-4 run that spanned most of the third quarter and into the fourth.

Lincoln Park now has four players that can both score and move well without the ball with the addition of Aloi, who now joins Cummings, Kellem and Zay Craft.

That movement creates opportunities and, once Aloi becomes more comfortable in the Leopards’ scheme, it will lead to even more of a nightmare of opponents.

“Nick is great with that, moving without the ball,” Bariski said. “That’s a special gift, some guys watch what’s going on and our offense is built to run with guys moving without the ball. Nellie is great at that, Antonio is great at that, Nick’s great at that. Moving without the ball is a big thing that we do. Throwing him in there with three or four guys moving without the ball, that’s very tough to defend.

“Once he gets it, he can hit that 3-pointer, he can hit that mid-range jumper or he can take it to the basket and score. Now we have four guys that can do that. That becomes troublesome for some teams ahead.”

Aloi also adds to the speed of what is already a team that prefers to quicken the pace of a game. Bariski now believes he has a different squad than he had before the season began, helping its chances for a WPIAL and PIAA championship repeat.

“He helps us to try to achieve our goals. He makes our chances a little bit better,” Bariski said of Aloi. “When you scout us, it’s a little different now. If you saw us at the beginning of the year, we’ve been getting better and better and now we’re a different team with Nick Aloi. We are a different team, a better team, a faster team. I like that, I like the way that we play. That’s what we’ll keep doing.”

Game Scoreboard
Lincoln Park 16 20 22 20 0 78
Mohawk 6 18 8 12 0 44
Box Scores
Antonio Kellem 6 0-0 15
Nelly Cummings 9 2-2 23
Zay Craft 0 4-4 4
Dermotti Welling 3 1-2 7
Nick Aloi 6 2-2 14
Mike Smith 4 1-3 9
Evan Brown 1 0-0 3
Dillon Murphy 0 0-2 0
Adonis Walker 1 1-1 3
Adam Trombetta 0 0-0 0
Luke Aloi 0 0 0-0 0
Totals: 32 11-16 78

Steve Hervatine 0 0-0 0
Zach Shasteen 7 5-6 21
Spencer McConahy 2 0-2 4
John Zagotti 1 0-0 2
Ricky Malutic 2 0-0 4
Michael Kurtz 2 0-0 4
Jayden Johnson 0 0-0 0
Ryan Bredl 0 3-6 3
Michael Romano 3 0-0 6
Mehmet Iclek 0 0-0 0
Thomas Brunton 0 0-0 0
Totals: 17 8-14 44

LINCOLN PARK 16 20 22 20 — 78
MOHAWK 6 18 8 12 — 44

3-point goals — Lincoln Park 3 (Kellem 1, Cummings 1, Brown 1), Mohawk 2 (Shasteen 2).
JV score: Mohawk 41, Lincoln Park 35. High scorer: M — Michael Romano 12, Jayden Johnson 11, Steve Hervatine 10.
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