Lancers snap Tigers’ 24-game section win streak
Neshannock (65) Vs. Beaver Falls (61)
Jan 11, 2014
By Joe Sager
New Castle News
To beat Beaver Falls, you have to play like Beaver Falls.

Neshannock figured that out last night.

The Lancers attacked the Tigers early and held on for a 65-61 home upset win in WPIAL Section 2-AA action.

“It’s a huge win for us,” said Neshannock’s Matt McKinney, who scored a game-high 19 points.

The victory snapped a 24-game section winning streak for Beaver Falls (5-1 section, 9-3 overall), which is the two-time defending WPIAL champ and last year’s PIAA kingpin.

“Beaver Falls is an absolutely tremendous basketball program. For us to get a win against them is a huge accomplishment for us,” Neshannock coach John Corey said. “I can’t speak highly enough about the will to win that we displayed.”

The Lancers (4-1, 10-2) faced a big size deficit against the Tigers. To counter that, they played to their strengths — an intense transition game and strong long-range shooting. They displayed both in an 11-2 run to close the first quarter.

McKinney drained his third 3-pointer of the first quarter to spark Neshannock’s spree. The Lancers scored several other hoops off their quick and efficient transition game to grab a 23-11 lead at the buzzer.

“The real key was in transition. When you think of Beaver Falls, you think of really fast and athletic kids. You can’t back down to them. You have to play just as fast and just as athletic and that’s what we tried to do,” Neshannock’s Ernie Burkes said. “I had a feeling before the game we were going to come out hot. It was a heated game at the beginning and it was heated at the end and I just couldn’t ask for a better game.”

The hosts kept up the intensity in the second quarter and built their lead to 41-21 at the horn.

“I was surprised by that. Both teams were playing hard. They were just missing some shots,” McKinney said. “Our success in transition surprised me. They weren’t getting back and we were taking advantage.”

Burkes helped fuel Neshannock’s quick offensive counterattack off a Beaver Falls miss or turnover.

“Ernie had eight assists at halftime and one turnover. He was seeing the floor tremendously. Guys were releasing and guys were getting out in the lanes and running,” Corey said. “The big thing was, we were finishing. We did do a great job of that in the first half. They clamped down a little bit in the second half and we didn’t get too many easy buckets. Were we 20 points better than them in the first half? No, we just got easy buckets. They picked it up defensively and guarded us and took away those easy opportunities.”

Defensively, the Tigers stifled Neshannock in the third quarter. Offensively, they ramped it up, too. The visitors opened the third quarter with a 19-5 run to trim the deficit to 46-40 with 3:23 to go.

“That’s Beaver Falls,” Burkes said. “That’s why they’re a state championship team. In grind time, they put it on the line.”

Neshannock withstood that jolt and posted a 51-44 lead through three quarters.

“With our guys playing that well, I guess I got outcoached a little bit in the second half. The lead diminished and it diminished pretty quickly,” Corey said. “But, I am proud with the courage our guys played with. It could have been very easy to fold because they didn’t quit. Clearly, if you look at their record, they are not used to losing and they don’t lose too many. So, we knew that they weren’t going to quit. We just had to play together and play very, very hard.

“Collectively, they are a great team. I kept telling our guys they were going to come and to be ready for the run. It definitely came down to us wanting it more.”

The Lancers held off the Tigers in the fourth, but the guests made one last charge in the final minute. Beaver Falls came within a bucket, 63-61, with 23.1 seconds to go, but Neshannock hung tough. The hosts did not help themselves, though, as they converted just 1 of 6 free-throw attempts in the final minute.

“That was bad, that was really bad,” McKinney said. “But, we won and that’s all we care about.”

Burkes finished with nine points, 10 assists and three rebounds. Ethan Moose had nine points and nine rebounds. Tyler Haswell, Matt Seltzer and Marcus Giangiuli all had eight points.

Nightly Roundup
Game Scoreboard
Neshannock 23 18 10 14 0 65
Beaver Falls 11 10 23 17 0 61
Box Scores
Elijah Cottrill 4 4-7 13
Dan Stratton 7 1-2 16
Javon Turner 3 4-6 10
Branden Thomas 1 2-2 5
Keyan Gibson 0 0-0 0
Donovan Jeter 3 0-1 6
Neshaud Akins 0 0-0 0
Josh Creach 5 1-1 11
Totals: 23 12-19 61

Ernie Burkes 2 4-7 9
Matt McKinney 5 4-5 19
Ethan Moose 3 2-4 9
Matt Seltzer 3 2-2 8
Ty Haswell 3 2-3 8
Jimmy Medure 2 0-0 4
Marcus Giangiuli 4 0-0 8
Totals: 22 14-21 65

BEAVER FALLS    11  10  23  17 — 61
NESHANNOCK      23  18 10  14 — 65

3-point goals — Beaver Falls 3 (Cottrill 1, Stratton 1, Thomas 1), Neshannock 7 (McKinney 5, Moose 1, Burkes 1).
JV score: Neshannock 56, Beaver Falls 49. High scorer: N — Don Colucci 13. 

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