Jon's Blog
It’s crunch time for local teams
Jan 29, 2008
This is the most important week of the season for some teams, while others are just playing out the schedule.

More on that in a minute. As promised, here are the top underclass girls players in the county.

New Castle — Shelby Rodgers, junior
She does everything well. Her shot has been coming on of late, something the Lady ’Canes will need in the playoffs. She can play either guard spot opposite Abby Allen and is a decent defender. Her best basketball is ahead of her.

Laurel — Lacee Cutchall, junior
Out of everyone this year, Cutchall gets the most out of what she was born with.

At just over 5-foot-1, this redheaded spark plug runs the point with command and control. I think she should look to score more, because when she gets into a groove, she can be tough to stop. She’s fun to watch.

Erika Warvell and Chelsea Kauffman, freshmen, Neshannock
If not for these two, Neshannock might not be in the playoffs right now.
Warvell plays on the inside, but played guard her entire life until this year. She’s hit some 3-pointers this season and gets five to seven rebounds every game. In the future, I can see her being used the way Kylee Patton is now.

Ask any coach if they want a freshman point guard and the answer, most often, would be “NO!!!”

Not in this case.

Kauffman is quietly one of the most patient and efficient point guards in Section 2-AA. She works the ball around and plays within herself. She also has a knack for hitting the big shot. Good player.

Carly Senko, sophomore, Shenango
She’s had shoulder problems all year and never really got healthy. It’s a shame, because of anyone on this list, she probably has the most upside.

An excellent athlete with a future in softball as well.

She’ll be a very good at whatever she chooses by the time she’s a senior.

Alyssa Natale and Kelly Fox. Sophomores, Mohawk
Natale will/should be an all-section pick for the next two years. She’s already counted on for so much of the Lady Warriors’ offense, and by next year, will probably be scoring in the 15-20 points per game range. Because ...

Kelly Fox is rapidly becoming a very solid point guard and defender for Mohawk. She is a hard worker and a leader on the floor. She’s the type of competitor every coach wants to run the offense.

First things first. As I sit here at 11:22 p.m. on Monday night, I have just been informed that the Mohawk girls have clinched a playoff berth.

I believe it was yours truly who said that they “didn’t score enough” to get in.

And they were M-A-D at me. They posted what I said in the locker room. Even shot me a few dirty looks.

Well, I’m glad I was wrong. You are a fun bunch of girls to watch play and I want to congratulate coach Mike O’Lare on getting this group to the playoffs.

Lincoln Park at Union boys, 7:30 p.m. today
No way Union should have lost to an 8-13 Monaca team on Friday night. No way at all.

The Scotties are far too talented and have far too many leaders on that team to go down there and lay an egg like that.

Still, with Sewickley Academy’s loss to Lincoln Park on Saturday, the Scotties have a shot to tie for the section title with a win tonight.

A loss puts them in third place, and out of a nice seed in the playoffs.

If the good Union team shows up, it can beat any Class A team, even Serra Catholic.

If the bad Union team shows up, it can lose to just about anyone.

Neshannock at Shenango boys, 7:30 p.m. today
Wow, what’s going on here?

Weren’t the Lancers written off for dead in this very space two weeks ago?

Some crazy things have happened to get Neshannock in this position:

1. Mike Conglose is playing out of his mind. The hottest shooter in the WPIAL.

2. Shenango is up 55-53 with 7.3 seconds left, WITH THE BALL, last Friday at Mohawk, but loses in double overtime.

3. Shenango, seemingly in the easy seat three weeks ago, faced the meat of the schedule — at Summit Academy, a 63-60 loss, Riverside (L 56-53) and at Mohawk (L 78-69).

4. Neshannock (the “good” bad team from the section) faces Laurel and Rochester, two teams that aren’t very good, and wins both.

If Neshannock wins tonight, they are in.

The Lancers play Summit on Friday night at home, while Shenango travels to Laurel.

Summit is overrated. Neshannock can win that. I think Laurel has packed it in for the year.

Tonight is big.

Riverside at Mohawk, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
They match up so well with each other.

Riverside is 21-1, 11-0 in section, and has three of the league’s seven best players in Jason Kolesar, Mason Marion and Jake Wickline.

Mohawk has the most balanced starting five.

Barring what happens tonight, this will be for the section title. Panthers win, they win the title. Warriors win, it’s a tie.

Nobody wants to believe that Riverside is this good.

A win Friday in a hostile environment should silence the critics.

Just in case you missed it ...

Union’s bench outscored Vincentian’s 38-7 in the boys game on Tuesday.

New Castle boys missed the playoffs for the second time in 16 years. However, it’s the second year in a row.

Neshannock and Mohawk girls combined for 32 points Monday night. It was 0-0 after the first quarter and 7-0 Lady Lancers at the half.

Our Lady of Sacred Heart, the top-ranked girls Class AA team, paid a visit to Laurel, winning by 25. In my estimation, if Mohawk gets into the playoffs and wins its pigtail game, it will face the Lady Chargers in the first round of the playoffs.

New Castle girls fell to North Allegheny on Friday, 55-47. What’s going on with them?

There were four local games that went into overtime Friday night. Two, Shenango-Mohawk and Neshannock-Rochester, were done within three minutes of each other. (I was in communication with fellow writer Dan Irwin, who was at Neshannock).

The WPIAL Playoff pairings meeting is on Tuesday and we’ll have it covered.

Every seed, every bracket that involves local teams, I’ll pick it the winner.

Check out the rest of the site as well for the entire sports department’s coverage from the meeting.

Plus, the awards show.

(Jon Geramita covers high school basketball for The Bounce.)

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