Rich Gaston
Name: Rich Gaston
Team: Shenango
Number: #42
Grade: 11
Height: 6' 5''
Weight: N/A
Position: F
New Castle News

Call them the Twin Towers.

The Shenango High boys basketball team has been rising to new heights with Rich Gaston and Mike Murcko.

The pair of 6-foot-5 junior forwards have provided the Wildcats (1-0 section, 5-2 overall) with a powerful presence in the paint.

“It’s nice to have two 6-foot-5 guys who are active and aggressive,” Shenango coach Bob McQuiston said. “You don’t see that too much in Double-A basketball.”

The Wildcats opened their season with seven games in nine days, Gaston and Murcko played vital roles during the strenuous stretch.

Gaston scored 11 points and added seven rebounds in a loss against New Castle. He outdid himself by scoring 40 and grabbing 17 rebounds in a four-overtime win against Ellwood City. Gaston scored 25 and snared 14 rebounds against Rochester to secure Shenango’s first Section 2-AA victory and followed by scoring 22 and grabbing 13 boards against West Middlesex on Saturday.

Murcko scored 16 points and had 10 rebounds against News Castle. He followed with 15 points against Ellwood City, 18 against Rochester and 15 against West Middlesex.

For their performances, Gaston and Murcko are Lawrence County’s Athletes of the Week, as selected by The New Castle News sports staff. The award is sponsored by Washington Centre Physical Therapy.

“Rich brings an inside presence,” McQuiston said. “He’s 6-foot-5 and he’s been playing really hard. He’s been giving us scoring and rebounding.

“Mike is a great passer and he has a nice 10-to 15-foot shot. They complement each other well because we like to go high-low post.”

Gaston averaged six points a game last season when he came off the bench as the Wildcats’ sixth man.

“One of our strengths last year was our inside game,” McQuiston said. “When you lose Rocco Colavecchia and Zach Anderson, right away you’re thinking who are you going to get to replace them? Rich has definitely done fine job at this point.

“He knows he has to be more aggressive and he’s stepped into that role and he’s been great with it.”

Gaston understands the significance of his role.

“Our inside game is very important,” Gaston said. “Not only do we have great guards, but we have guards who can give us the ball. We have big bodies so we should be dominant.”

Murcko agrees.

“Our inside game opens the outside game for the guards,” Murcko said. “When we finish, we’re good and we give the guards a look, too.”

Murcko appeared in just one varsity game last year.

“He put in a real hard summer, McQuiston said. “He’s definitely gotten stronger. If you compare him to last year there’s a big difference because he’s changed. He’s leaner with a lot more muscle; he’s more active and he’s looking to score a whole lot more.”

Murcko plans to keep improving.

“I’m pleased with my jump shots, but I need to work on finishing more and I’m working on that in practice,” Murcko said. “And I can always improve with my rebounding.”
Player of the Week
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