Wilkinsburg storms past Neshannock
Wilkinsburg (63) Vs. Neshannock (27)
Feb 25, 2011
By JOE SAGER
AMBRIDGE — The Neshannock High boys basketball team played its worst quarter of basketball last night.
Problem was, in came in the opening stanza — and things didn’t get much better for the Lancers.
Wilkinsburg stormed to a 26-4 lead after the first and rolled to a 63-27 victory in a WPIAL Class AA first-round game at the Ambridge Field House.
The seventh-seeded Tigers (16-5) move on to face Beaver Falls, a 74-34 winner over California, tomorrow.
Setting the tone early was key for Wilkinsburg, which raced to an 8-0 edge and limited Neshannock (17-6) to only one field goal in the first quarter.
“We have been going over that in practice since we had the bye week. We were telling them we wanted to put Wilkinsburg on the map,” Wilkinsburg coach Reuben Coleman said. “We weren’t happy just making the playoffs last year and going out. We wanted to come in and make a statement and be one of the teams that you have to recognize as a contender. My boys made up their mind that they were ready to play and ready to win and they came out and set that tone real early.
“It was a good win, but this game is over. We’re going to enjoy it for half a night,” he continued. “(Today) we’re going back to work.”
The Lancers struggled from the start as they seemed overwhelmed by the Tigers’ quickness. Neshannock was hesitant as Wilkinsburg stormed to an 8-0 lead. Brandon Marinelli finally found the back of the net for the Lancers with a 3-pointer 1:57 into the game. That triplicate reduced to the deficit to 8-3, but the Tigers went on a 10-0 blitz before David Burkes swished a free throw. Wilkinsburg closed the opening stanza with an 8-0 run to post a 26-4 advantage.
“Out of all our starts this season, obviously, that wasn’t a good one. The first couple minutes, I was very shocked at how we started the basketball game,” Neshannock coach John Corey said. “I had challenged these guys — the first key that I put on the board before going out was toughness. This was going to take us being extremely tough to beat a good Wilkinsburg team. We didn’t execute key No. 1, which is coming out and being tough.
“The unfortunate thing was we got down early and had that deficit. I told these guys the look I needed to see in their eyes to dig themselves out of that hole wasn’t there. It’s very unfortunate. Overall, we had a successful year. But, to go out like that is a complete downer.”
Neshannock struggled against the Tigers’ defense and committed an uncharacteristic amount of unforced errors as well. That allowed Wilkinsburg to outscore the Lancers, 22-7, in the second and increase the advantage to 48-11 at halftime.
The Tigers’ lead swelled to 40 points, 58-18, with 2:03 left in the third quarter. That activated the mercy rule, which kept the clock running the rest of the game. Wilkinsburg settled for the 36-point triumph.
“We had seen them on film a couple times. We knew it was a challenge in front of us. But, I think we compete with them if we are a lot tougher from the tipoff,” Corey said. “The unforced errors we had — their athleticism causes a lot of problems, but we have seen a 2-2-1 (defense) numerous times this season. We talked about it before we went out. For whatever reason, we just didn’t execute.”
Marinelli led Neshannock with 11 points.
Wilkinsburg placed four scorers in double digits, led by Robert Taylor with 14 points.
“That shows maturity from my team. Anytime you see distribution like that, you’re playing as a team,” Coleman said. “One of the keys for us to be successful is to play as a team and I thought they did a good job of that.”