Neshannock boys stop Brownsville
Neshannock (59) Vs. Brownsville (52)
Feb 21, 2011
By JOE SIMON
IMPERIAL — Many variables were analyzed heading into Neshannock’s WPIAL Class AA showdown with Brownsville, but one made all the difference.
The Lancers stopped Brownsville on a few key possessions down the stretch and won a boys basketball preliminary-round game, 59-52, in a contest with two evenly matched teams.
Neshannock coach John Corey said his team didn’t play smart and failed to close out the game on several occasions. They missed free throws, turned the ball over and couldn’t convert several open layups.
But they won, and he knew why.
“We got some stops, defensively,” he said. “It was 56-52 (late in the fourth quarter), they were still in striking range and we got some stops and some key rebounds down the stretch. Those last couple possessions they had, we weren’t giving them second-shot opportunities and we guarded pretty well.”
The Falcons, on the other hand, committed one too many mistakes defensively and it proved costly.
Neshannock (17-6), which will play Wilkinsburg (15-5) on Wednesday at a site and time to be determined, started to take control in the third quarter after entering halftime tied at 27. The Lancers went on a 14-4 run in the first three minutes of the third, with several scores coming on fast breaks. The breakaway opportunities were something Brownsville (11-12) was weary of coming into the game.
“They seem to take advantage of our weaknesses we had on defense — not hustling back, not fighting through screens and not doing the little things,” Falcons coach Brian Brashear said. “We played a pretty good game offensively; it was defensively where we had problems. And we knew that was where we had to stay stout in order to win.”
Both teams started off slowly, but Brownsville held a 13-8 lead after one quarter thanks mainly to the play of point guard C.J. Gaddis. He created opportunities for others beating his man off the dribble and passing (three of his five assists came in the first quarter).
Neshannock’s Brandon Marinelli found his rhythm in the second quarter, scoring 10 of his game-high 19 points to stake his team to a 27-22 advantage.
From then on, the pep seemed to be back in Neshannock’s step.
“We had about a week and a half off, so we knew we were going to come out a little rusty,” said Marinelli, who also grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds. “We started to pick it up and play together like we have been all season (in the second half). It was back and forth for a while, but we ended up getting the win.”
Freshman David Burkes is a big reason why the Lancers earned the victory. He sank one of the biggest baskets of the game. Brownsville was in the midst of an 8-2 run and trimmed an 11-point deficit to one at 51-50 with two minutes remaining. Burkes, who finished with 11 points, squared up from the top of the key and nailed a 3-pointer that seemed to deflate the Falcons.
“We’ve seen it over and over again where (David) has stepped up and hit some big shots, and that was another one,” Corey said. “Those are the things we’ve come to expect from him.”
Burkes picked up valuable playing time toward the end of the year when starting point guard John Sansone went down with an injury. Sansone, who was still nursing an injured ankle and was a game-time decision, played a major role on Saturday. The ankle didn’t seem to bother him at all as he scored 16 points, dished out four assists and grabbed five rebounds and four steals.
He also was part of a Lancers defense that held Brownsville leading scorer Derek Jones to nine points. Gaddis paced the Falcons with 13 points, while Josh Mapstone chipped in 11. Brownsville was 19 of 49 from the field and 6 of 19 from beyond the arc. Neshannock finished 22 of 46 and 6 of 17 on 3-pointers.
Corey said the Lancers’ matchup with Wilkinsburg is going to be a tough one.
“They’re very athletic and extremely quick,” he said. “We’re going to have to be efficient on offense and really understand our roles on defense to get the win.”