Shenango holds off Riverside
Shenango (53) Vs. Riverside (49)
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NORTH SEWICKLEY TOWNSHIP — A shot in the third quarter doesn’t win a game, but it can turn a game around.
Witness last night’s Shenango High at Riverside in a WPIAL Section 2-AA contest.
Riverside had a 13-point lead with six minutes to play in the third quarter and appeared to be in control. Then the Panthers’ defense lost Shenango’s Mike Murcko for a second.
Murcko, a 6-foot-6 senior who had not scored in the first half, found himself wide open at the top of the key when he got the basketball and proceeded to bang home a 3-point shot.
It was the beginning of the end for Riverside, and the beginning of a nice comeback for the Wildcats.
Murcko scored all 16 of his points in the second half as Shenango rallied for a 53-49 victory. Chris Grant scored on a layup with 28 seconds left to snap a 46-46 tie and Rich Gaston connected on a pair of free throws with 17 seconds left to give Shenango a 50-46 lead. Riverside trimmed the margin to two points twice in the final 10 seconds, but never got closer.
“Our guards just did a good job of getting me the ball in places where I could score,” Murcko said. “And Anthony Pisano did a nice job of coming in and playing defense against Mason Marion. He should get a lot of credit.”
The win upped Shenango’s overall record to 4-3 and kept the Wildcats undefeated in the section after two games. Riverside dropped to 1-2 in the section and 3-3 overall.
Shenango plays at Rochester on Tuesday.
If there was an unsung hero for Shenango it was Pisano. Marion scored a game-high 23 points and had seven of those in the fourth quarter, but missed on his two 3-point attempts in the period.
“We’ve said if we needed a stopper Anthony’s the guy,” Shenango coach Bob McQuiston said.
Still, it was Murcko who fueled the Wildcats fire in the second half.
After nailing the 3-pointer to trim Riverside’s advantage to 29-19, he drove for a layup, was fouled and converted the three-point play. Murcko then scored off an offensive rebound to pull Shenango within five points.
Gaston, who scored 17 points, completed the 10-point run by scoring on a layup.
Shane Rusnock tossed in a jumper at the foul line to stop the bleeding for Riverside, but Grant worked free for a layup for Shenango and Murcko made a 3-pointer from the left wing at 1:52 of the quarter to tie the score at 31.
The Wildcats took a 35-33 lead into the fourth period.
“We just came out a little flat and Riverside’s tough at home,” McQuiston said. “Once we got going in the third quarter we gained some confidence.”
“They got the ball where they wanted to get the ball in the third quarter,” Riverside coach Jon Rorick said. “We kept them from doing that the first half and Murcko came up big. He’s been their go-to guy all year.
“We just had a four-minute stretch there where we didn’t play that well and it cost us.”
The outcome might have been different if Josh Anderson’s 3-point attempt had gone in for the Panthers with about 20 seconds left. Riverside was trailing 48-46 at the time and the ball was in the cylinder before rimming out.
“That’s the way it’s going to be for us this season,” said Rorick, who doesn’t have a starter taller than 6 feet. “Every game’s going to be a battle. We’ve won a couple close ones this season and now we’ve lost two in a row.”
McQuiston was pleased to pick up a section road victory.
“You’ve got to win your home games and hope to steal a couple wins on the road,” he said. “This was a nice one to get.”