Shenango too much for Riverside
Shenango (75) Vs. Riverside (56)
The only thing close about this one was the range from which Shenango was scoring.

Fueled by a steady diet of pinpoint passes from their guards, the Wildcats’ big men turned in a pair of dominating performances around the bucket last night to lift Shenango to a 75-56 WPIAL Section 2-AA homecourt romp over Riverside.

Rich Gaston, a 6-foot-5 senior, contributed 33 points and 20 rebounds to the win, while 6-6 senior Mike Murcko finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds.

“Our guards did a tremendous job of getting the ball inside,” Shenango head coach Bob McQuiston said. “We knew they (the Panthers) were going to sag on us, and I thought the guards did a great job rotating the ball and hitting Rich and Mike — and Rich and Mike were working hard in the paint to get open.

“But you gotta have the guards throw it to them, and the guards did a great job tonight.”

Gaston rolled up 23 of his points and 11 rebounds to help stake Shenango to a 35-17 halftime lead. Murcko then stepped into the spotlight after intermission, accounting for 15 of his points and nine of his rebounds.

DaveMcCowin led Shenango’s assist parade with six, followed by Bobby Gwin with five.

The win couldn’t have been more timely for the Wildcats (4-4, 7-10). Not only did it give them sole possession of third place, but it also helped purge the memories of having lost six of their previous seven games. The average margin of defeat during that string was 4.5 points, and two of the setbacks came in overtime.

“It was very frustrating,” Gaston said. “We were right there in all those games.

“Tonight, we knew that the playoffs are on the line, and that’s something we really want to get to. In practice, we’ve been trying to keep up the intensity, and this game, we were really focused. We were going crazy in that locker room before the game. We were ready.”

After having watched his team slip by the Panthers (3-6, 7-11) by just four points in the teams’ first meeting of the season, McQuiston said he “never would have suspected” that Shenango would be on the winning end of such a lopsided score last night. Like Gaston, he could tell that his charges arrived pumped, but he also layered another round of credit onto his guards.

“I think we’ve been taking better care of the basketball,” he noted. “The guards have been cutting down on the turnovers, and when you’re cutting your turnovers down, obviously, you’re going to get more shots — and we were shooting the ball well tonight (59 percent from the floor).”

The Wildcats hope they turned a corner last night. After all, their remaining schedule includes contests against league-leading Mohawk, second-place New Brighton, and fellow playoff hopefuls Rochester (4-5) and Laurel (3-6) — each of which beat Shenango during the first half of section play.

“This is a great win,” Gaston said, “but we’ve still got four more to go.”
Game Scoreboard
Shenango 20 15 22 18 0 75
Riverside 6 11 18 21 0 56
Box Scores

Mason Marion 2 3-4 7
Josh Anderson 4 4-5 14
Zac Rorick 2 1-1 6
Shane Rusnock 6 1-2 13
Jake Thellman 3 0-0 6
Sean Strosnider 3 0-0 8
Aaron Bingle 0 0-0 0
Cameron Ninos 0 0-0 0
T.J Altsman 0 2-2 2
Totals: 20 11-14 56

Bobby Gwin 0 7-11 7
Chris Grant 2 0-0 5
Mike Murcko 8 4-4 21
Rich Gaston 15 3-7 33
Dave McCowin 1 2-4 5
Brian Herb 0 3-5 3
Jordan Hill 0 0-0 0
Joe Colavecchia 0 0-0 0
Anthony Pisano 0 0-0 0
Brett Cassella 0 0-0 0
Jordan Razo 0 0-0 0
Josh Misner 0 0-0 0
Matt Jacobs 0 0-0 0
Brandon Kusnierz 0 0-0 0
Totals: 26 20-33 75

RIVERSIDE 6 11 18 21 — 56
SHENANGO 20 15 22 18 — 75

3-point goals — Shenango 3 (Murcko 1, Grant 1, McCowin 1); Riverside 5 (Strosnider 2, Anderson 2, Rorick 1).
JV score: Riverside 40, Shenango 39. High scorer: Ryan Finnegan 12 (R), Brock Blakely 15 (S), Brian Herb 10 (S).
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