Wolverines’ win provides a blast from the past
Ellwood City (54) Vs. Laurel (44)
Dec 07, 2012
By Andrew Petyak
New Castle News

Things definitely have changed for the Ellwood City Lincoln High boys basketball team.

But in many ways, they have remained the same.

A familiar formula of strong defense and a player named Aloi powered the Wolverines to a 54-44 triumph over Laurel at the Ellwood City Tipoff Tournament last night.

Freshman guard Nick Aloi, a son of former Ellwood basketball star Frank Aloi Jr., led the Wolverines with 17 points while shooting 7 of 8 from the free throw line.

“It feels great,” Aloi said after his first career high school game. “I thought we transitioned very well.”

With the victory, Ellwood City advances to the championship game at 7:30 tonight against Sharpsville, coached by former Neshannock mentor Jim Smiley. The Blue Devils outlasted Slippery Rock 59-55 in overtime earlier yesterday. The Spartans will play the Rockets in the consolation game at 6 p.m.

The season-opening matchup marked the debuts of two head coaches, Laurel’s Ken Locke and Ellwood’s Anthony Ovial. Locke’s team came out firing on all cylinders as the Spartans took a 16-9 lead into the second quarter.

“Our guys came with the intensity I thought they would,” Locke said. “We executed at the start.”
Laurel forward Josh Finley scored eight points and dominated the flow in the early going, snatching five rebounds in the first quarter.

“He’s going to be a good player for us this season,” Locke said. “We knew coming in we had a little bit of size on them and we tried to take advantage of that.”

After a somewhat sloppy defensive performance in the first quarter, the Wolverines responded by allowing 28 points the rest of the way. It was an effort reminiscent of past Ellwood City defenses under former head coach Al Campman.

“The first quarter was nerves,” Ovial said “Jeff Fallabel, our starting center, went down with four fouls early, and the bonehead that I am didn’t catch that right away. We lost one of our studs to foul trouble. We battled that. That second half we played really hard. The big thing in the second half was we rebounded the basketball. In the first half they were killing us on the glass and making shots. Our guys, to our credit, continued to pick up the defense and the intensity, and good things happened for us.”

Ellwood City took its first lead of the game in the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer by guard Matt Young to put the Wolverines up 41-40 with under six minutes remaining. After Spartans guard Jacob Wilson gave Laurel the lead once more, a 3-pointer by senior Mario Greco put the Wolverines ahead for good, 44-41. Young finished with 13 points, Wilson added 11 and Greco eight.

“They went into the zone pressure with a little bit of zone trap,” Locke said. “It caused us some trouble. We made a few adjustments, but they did a good job and we didn’t execute off that. That was the difference. Their defense was creating different shots for us and we weren’t able to knock them down. You have to give them credit defensively. We had some looks here and there, but we couldn’t get that one to get us over the top when we had a lead.”

Aloi took control with under three minutes left, scoring seven of the next 10 points to seal the game for the Wolverines.

“He’s steady,” Ovial said. “Everything you saw tonight is everything we need from him. The kid’s a freshman. At no point did I think about taking him out of the game. They threw a lot of defenses at him and he responded.”

The victory holds importance to Ovial in multiple ways.

“I know how hard these guys have worked every single day. You don’t want to come out and lay an egg at home,” Ovial, a 2000 Ellwood graduate, said. “They didn’t let it happen. You can have a bad quarter. You can’t have a bad three quarters. It’s a four-quarter game, so they battled. They knew they worked so hard in this offseason that they weren’t going to let it happen. Tonight, they dug deep enough to make big plays in the end to win. That Laurel team is tough. They are big. They have guys who make shots. They have guys who can handle the ball. We had our hands full all night long.

(Email: a_petyak@ncnewsonline.com)
Nightly Roundup
Game Scoreboard
Ellwood City 9 18 9 18 0 54
Laurel 16 14 8 6 0 44
Box Scores
James Steele 1 0-0 2
Stephen Avery 2 0-0 4
Josh Dando 5 2-3 13
Josh Finley 3 2-8 8
Jacob Wilson 2 7-8 11
Noah Wertz 1 0-2 2
Scott Siddall 1 0-0 2
Zachary Wilson 1 0-0 2
Joseph Bandemer 0 0-0 0
Damian Steele 0 0-0 0
Richard Stewart 0 0-0 0
Jake Booher 0 0-0 0
Alexander Brooks 0 0-0 0
Colton Brown 0 0-0 0
Totals: 16 11-21 44

Jeff Fallabel 1 0-0 2
Mario Greco 2 3-5 8
Nick Aloi 5 7-8 17
Nick Valentino 2 0-0 4
Matt Young 3 4-4 13
Matt Morabito 2 2-5 6
Frederick Roth 2 0-1 4
Cavio Stevenson 0 0-0 0
Stephen Zeh 0 0-0 0
Tanner Walsh 0 0-0 0
Dom Chapman 0 0-0 0
Nick D’itri 0 0-0 0
Tyler MacMurdo 0 0-0 0
Trey Moses 0 0-0 0
William Scott 0 0-0 0
Nino Greco 0 0-0 0
Totals: 17 16-22 54

LAUREL 16 14 8 6 — 44
ELLWOOD 9 18 9 18 — 54

3-point goals — Laurel 1 (Dando 1), Ellwood City 4 (Young 3, M. Greco 1).
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