Lady Warriors get it done and move on
Mohawk (36) Vs. South Side (17)
Feb 15, 2014
By Corey J. Corbin
New Castle News

MOON TOWNSHIP — Survive and advance.

Mohawk High girls basketball coach Mike O’Lare isn’t worried about winning pretty. He just wants to collect the victory anyway his team can.

The Lady Warriors forced 28 turnovers and coerced South Side Beaver into a frigid 13 percent shooting last night to secure a 36-17 WPIAL Class AA preliminary-round contest at Moon High School.

The Lady Rams went 5 of 38 from the field in the loss.

“This isn’t gymnastics. You’re not getting style points for the way you win a game,” O’Lare said. “What you saw is how we play. That’s our style. Offensively, we may stall here and there, but defensively, we stick on you. We’ll take it whether it’s by one, 15 or 30.”

Mohawk (17-5) earned the 11th seed with the win and will meet sixth-seeded Carlynton on Tuesday at a time and site to be announced. Carlynton (18-3) topped the Section 6 standings.

“This is really exciting, especially with the long trip that we’ve been on this year,” said sophomore guard Aliya Gage, who finished with a game-high 16 points, seven rebounds and five steals. “We lost a lot of seniors from last year and we have a lot of young players. This shows that we’re capable of winning games, too.

“We were definitely pretty nervous. You want to win the first one, so it’s pretty cool.”

The Lady Warriors used an aggressive man-to-man defense and 1-2-2 press in the first quarter to force nine miscues, while Gage and fellow guard Melissa Verlotte did the heavy lifting offensively. Gage scored six points and Verlotte four to help Mohawk carry a 10-2 cushion into the second quarter.

“We felt that if we could score early that we could get out on them in the full-court,” O’Lare said. “That’s not something we traditionally do, but we felt athletically that we didn’t want to sit in the half-court. They have some big kids and they rebound well. We didn’t want to get stuck inside with the trees.”

South Side Beaver (11-12) didn’t score again until midway through the third quarter. By that time, the Lady Warriors had built a 20-2 lead.

“We just did what we normally do,” Gage said. “We play in and help each other out. When you have a team that likes to drive a lot, you want to make them take the outside shot because you have to get the rebound. We wanted to keep them under 40.”

Mohawk’s lead grew to as many as 24 in the fourth quarter before a series of Lady Warriors’ turnovers allowed the Lady Rams to crawl back into it.

“The problem was we stopped scoring and couldn’t press,” said O’Lare, whose club had 19 turnovers. “We were stuck in the half-court getting stops and not converting on the other end.”

The Lady Warriors, like South Side Beaver, struggled from the field, shooting just 37 percent from the field (16 of 43).

“They’re not aggressive defensively, but that doesn’t mean they’re not in the right spot,” O’Lare said. “A lot of the time, we’d come open, but they were packed so far in there and are so big that our kids struggled to get down in there. I think what they wanted us to do was settle for the outside shot. We were trying to force the inside shots, so there was a stalemate. It was our offense versus their defense.

“We didn’t force very many shots. I thought we took good ones. We had a lot of one footers rim out. Just finishing a basket helps you get the next one by being able to set up. If you miss, you have to run back and dig in for sometimes a minute with their offense to get the stop.”

O’Lare is giving his troops today off to savor the moment before setting their sights on Carlynton.

“To be honest with you, we would win last year and I’d panic,” he said. “We’d get right onto the next game. We never enjoyed the win. This year, we’re not going to look at anybody. We’re going to take (today) completely off to have a day where we feel good. Sometimes, we, as coaches, go right to the next game and we end up passing it on to the kids. The kids work too hard to not enjoy it. Right now, we’re going to enjoy this and we’re not going to do anything until Sunday morning.”

Samantha Carr had six points, three rebounds and three steals, while Ashley McConnell came off the bench to lead Mohawk with nine rebounds. Holly Duncan also had three steals.

“This is all about winning a game at a time,” O’Lare said. “For us, this is a big step, getting this first one. For the program, we want to continue to build this tradition of winning.”Sammy Gibson paced the Lady Rams with six points.

Nightly Roundup
Game Scoreboard
Mohawk 10 8 5 13 0 36
South Side 2 0 3 12 0 17
Box Scores
Sarah Androlia 0 1-2 1
Lex Dhayer 1 0-0 2
Sammy Gibson 1 4-9 6
Cheyenne Seik 1 2-4 4
Cheyenne Winkle 2 0-3 4
Lacey Weible 0 0-0 0
Casey Barber 0 0-0 0
Lauren Lukaszewicz 0 0-0 0
Totals: 5 7-18 17

Jaki Bender 1 0-0 3
Holly Duncan 0 0-0 0
Samantha Carr 3 0-3 6
Melissa Verlotte 3 1-3 7
Aliya Gage 7 2-5 16
Ashley McConnell 1 0-0 2
Asheli Freed 0 0-0 0
Erin Giancola 0 0-2 0
Makenzie McConnell 0 0-0 0
Christine Jones 1 0-0 2
Totals: 16 3-13 17

SOUTH SIDE BEAVER 2 0 3 12 — 17
MOHAWK 10 8 5 13 — 36

3-point goals — Mohawk 1 (Bender 1).
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