Lancers ignore layoff; roll into quarterfinals
Neshannock (64) Vs. Avonworth (49)

By Andrew Koob

New Castle News

CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP — Thirteen days of waiting was a cause for concern for the 10th-seeded Neshannock High boys basketball team.

The Lancers had been biding their time, shooting the lights out in practices leading up to Thursday night's WPIAL Class AA playoff game against seventh-seeded Avonworth.

The only question that remained was if the momentum from practice would shift its way under the bright lights of the postseason.

It didn't take long to realize that it had and that it would be Neshannock's night in a 64-49 victory over the Antelopes in the first round of the playoffs at Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic.

"With our shorter practices now, we practice about 75 to 80 percent of our practice shooting the ball," Neshannock coach John Corey said. "We’ve been shooting it extremely well, but having 13 days off, there was a concern with that. But I thought we came out early, hit a couple of threes and didn’t force anything. We were very patient and overall it was just a good start for us.

“The layover was simply about ‘can we continue that?’ To come out and have a great quarter like that, it was a great sign.”

Neshannock (17-5) connected on eight 3-pointers, seven in the first three quarters, and shot 47.5 percent from the field. Ethan Moose led the Lancers with 21 points and 12 rebounds, Jake Rylott added 17 points and seven boards and Jason Swope contributed 14 points.

"I was shocked that we only hit eight threes," Corey said. "We’ve been on fire at practice and this is a great gym to play in. I expected us to have a little bit more than that, but we’ll take the eight.

Added Swope, who knocked in three 3-pointers, “We were trying to penetrate and kick because that was working. We kept trying to do that and knocked a few down. I missed a few, but we were still getting open and that’s what it comes down to."

Neshannock made its defensive presence felt in the opening quarter, holding the Antelopes (14-9) to just seven points and keeping leading scorer Garrett Day, who came in averaging 19.6 points per game, and big man Zach Chandler scoreless in the opening eight minutes.

"Day is a very good player and to hold him scoreless in the first quarter was a tremendous effort from our guys," Corey said. "It was a team effort, we switched screens and got out in the passing lanes. To hold him to seven was great, holding Chandler scoreless in the first quarter was a great start.”

Avonworth stormed back in the second quarter, briefly taking the lead on a Day 3-pointer. Brandon Scheidemantle connected on a 3-point shot of his own on the ensuing possession, taking away the only lead the Antelopes would hold.

After four Avonworth points cut the Neshannock lead in half, Moose turned on the aggression and put away the Antelopes for good. The senior scored 11 of the Lancers' first 13 points of the quarter and extended the lead to 18 points.

“I was tentative in the first half and part of the third quarter," Moose said. "But I just wanted to pick it up, my coaches and teammates told me to take it to the hole and I just went as hard as I could. We’re all seniors and we didn’t want this to be our last game at all. So we played our hearts out for a great win. We just have to keep on going.”

Corey added, "Every time he touches the ball, he’s expected to be aggressive and when he doesn’t do that, we struggle. A lot of our offense is him attacking, getting into the paint because he’s effective when he does that and that opens up the perimeter for us. When he’s being aggressive, we’re in a much better place."

The Lancers now move onto the quarterfinals, where they find a familiar opponent in second-seeded Lincoln Park. The Leopards have bested Neshannock twice this season, 73-56 and 79-61.

Game Scoreboard
Neshannock 14 14 20 16 0 64
Avonworth 7 19 14 9 0 49
Box Scores
Jake Rylott 6 2-2 17
Frank Fraschetti 1 4-4 7
Ethan Moose 7 7-10 21
Jason Swope 3 3-4 14
Ean Oprean 0 0-0 0
Rich Serignese 0 0-0 0
Brandon Scheidemantle 1 2-2 5
Mike Nuzzo 0 0-0 0
Mark Munnell 0 0-0 0
Chis Scott 0 0-0 0
Totals: 19 18-22 64

Garrett Day 2 2-2 7
Jeffrey Igims 0 0-0 0
Darius Simmons 0 0-0 0
Jamal Hughley 4 4-9 12
Tyler Bradley 0 0-0 0
Matt Crilley 0 0-0 0
Michael Noethiger 1 1-2 4
Zach Chandler 6 1-3 13
Cole Jenkins 1 0-0 2
Tyreek Davis 4 0-0 10
Totals: 18 8-16 49

NESHANNOCK 14 14 20 16 — 64
AVONWORTH 7 19 14 9 — 49

3-point goals — Neshannock 8 (Swope 3, Rylott 3, Fraschetti 1, Scheidemantle 1), Avonworth 4 (Davis 2, Day 1, Noethiger 1).
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