Mohawk locks up second place with win
Mohawk (43) Vs. Shenango (38)
Feb 08, 2014
By Corey J. Corbin
New Castle News

The Mohawk High girls basketball team has found its recipe for success.

The visiting Lady Warriors capitalized on their stingy defense in a 43-38 win over WPIAL Section 2-AA rival Shenango last night.

“They’ve been working on defense for years,” Shenango coach Brian Turk said. “They’re holding teams to like 32 points a game. They deny, deny, deny. They don’t allow you to get the ball into the paint.”

Mohawk has held opposing offenses to 30 points or less in 10 games and are allowing just 33.6 points through 20 contests this winter.

“Everything we do starts on the defensive end,” Mohawk coach Mike O’Lare said. “Regardless of what we’re doing offensively, we try to buy in defensively. The kids have been playing well and have been putting forth a lot of effort on the defensive end. We know we have to get stops if we want to advance in the playoffs.”

The Lady Warriors (9-3, 15-5) locked up second place in the section behind Neshannock (11-1, 21-1) with the win.

“I’m happy with the season as a whole and what we accomplished this year,” O’Lare said. “To go 9-3 in the section with the scenario that we went through in losing almost our entire team and having five first-year starters is great. We’re hoping that winning becomes a tradition here. The kids carried that torch and now, we’re hoping to win some games in the playoffs.

“We have some pretty good players. When good players believe, they turn into winners, but the most important thing is having good players.”

The Lady Wildcats (7-5, 12-9) dropped into a third-place tie with Laurel (7-5, 12-9). The two teams split their regular season meetings and both will qualify for the playoffs.

“We reached one goal,” Turk said. “We didn’t want to be satisfied with just getting into the playoffs. We wanted to beat another quality team and get a better seed in the playoffs. We’re happy, but not satisfied with being tied with Laurel for third place.

“The girls are excited. We’re looking forward to playing in a different venue against a different team. We’ll build off the experience and look to contend for a section championship next year.”

Mohawk took an early 12-10 lead after one quarter and extended it to 37-24 after three periods by limiting Shenango to single digits in the middle stanzas.

“We were forced to shoot a lot from the outside and didn’t connect,” Turk said. “We played catch-up for most of the game. We didn’t play our best basketball and it cost us. We just couldn’t connect on anything during those two quarters. We’re not a team built to play catch-up like that.”

The Lady ’Cats were able to cut into their deficit in the fourth quarter by outscoring the Lady Warriors 14-6 and pulled to within three points late, but never got any closer.

“I took the air out of the ball a little too early and I take the blame for that,” O’Lare said. “We held the ball and we got a little flat. It trickled back to our defense.”

Mohawk played without injured 5-foot-5 junior point guard Melissa Verlotte for the second straight game.

“We’re hoping to get her back next week for the playoffs,” O’Lare said. “We’re erring on the side of caution right now and resting her.”

Aliya Gage led Mohawk with 17 points, while Samantha Carr tacked on 10. Jaki Bender and Ashley McConnell each contributed eight.

“Without Melissa, we’ve had to force the other kids into different roles,” O’Lare said. “Aliya Gage had to run the point and did a great job managing the game from a different position.”

Carolyn Peterson paced Shenango with a game-high 22 points.

“She kept us in the game,” Turk said. “She played very well, which was important because our other players struggled. She did a nice job coming off picks and screens to knock down shots.”

Nightly Roundup
Feb 08, 2014 Nightly Roundups
Game Scoreboard
Mohawk 12 17 8 6 0 43
Shenango 10 8 6 14 0 38
Box Scores
Jaki Bender 3 0-0 8
Holly Duncan 0 0-0 0
Samantha Carr 4 2-2 10
Aliya Gage 6 5-8 17
Ashley McConnell 4 0-1 8
Erin Giancola 0 0-0 0
Totals: 17 7-11 43

Jaqui Baker 0 0-0 0
Angelina Sibeto 2 4-4 8
Samantha Seaburn 1 4-6 6
Ashleigh Presnar 0 0-0 0
Emma Rich 1 0-0 2
Carolyn Peterson 7 4-4 22
Totals: 11 12-14 38

MOHAWK 12 17 8 6 — 43
SHENANGO 10 8 6 14 — 38

3-point goals — Mohawk 2 (Bender 2), Shenango 4 (Peterson 4).
There was no JV game.
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