Warriors fight off flu for gutsy win over Shenango
Shenango (69) Vs. Mohawk (78)
Jan 25, 2008

No excuses. Mental toughness.

That’s what Mohawk High boys basketball coach Kevin Wrona told his players before the Warriors’ WPIAL Section 2-AA game with Shenango last night.

Starter Matt Lorello, one of the section’s top players, had the flu and a 102-degree fever. Starter Michael Henry, another of the league's premier post players, was sick and said he couldn’t breathe. Starter Chase Frederick was so ill he landed in the emergency room on Wednesday.

The Wildcats didn’t offer sympathy. They needed a win to stay alive in the playoff race.

No way the Warriors could compete, let alone play two overtime periods, right?

Believe it.

Before a packed house at Mohawk, the Warriors gutted out a 78-69 win to remain a game behind 11-0 section leader Riverside.

“A special group,” said Wrona, still exhausted from coaching a game with so many emotional twists and turns.

Shenango (4-6, 12-9) led 55-53 with 7.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter, inbounding under the Warriors basket. The Wildcats tried to hit 6-foot-5 Rich Gaston on a long pass at midcourt, but Henry deflected it right to Frederick. As time wound down, Frederick got in the lane and banked home the tying shot with 1.3 seconds left.

“I had no clue how much time was left,” said Frederick, who had 18 points. “Then I thought we won. I didn’t know what the score was.”

In the first overtime, the Wildcats responded, taking a 62-58 lead on Ryan Tanner’s 3-pointer with 2:20 left.

No excuses.

After Tanner found Mike Murcko (21 points) for a layup and a 65-62 lead with 20 seconds left, Wrona called a timeout.

His play worked beautifully, as Justin Shaffer came off a screen, pump-faked right and drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key for the tie.

Frederick looked exhausted. Henry couldn’t breathe. Lorello kept sucking down water.

Teammate Cory Nesbitt looked like a general.

“No way we lose this,” he yelled as his team took the court for the second overtime.

Henry made 6 of 8 free throws in the period. Matt Jura hit two from the line for a 70-66 lead with 1:16 left.

Murcko hit a 3-pointer to cut it to 70-69 Warriors. But Frederick broke a full-court press by himself and found Lorello for a layup. He then stole a pass at halfcourt a drove all the way, 74-69, then blocked Bryan Chieze’s 3-pointer with 25 seconds left.

He pumped his fists and hugged teammates. For a second, nobody was sick.

Mohawk (9-1, 11-5) didn’t need this win. It has already clinched a playoff spot, and with games next week against Summit Academy and Riverside, Wrona could’ve rested his guys.

“We want to piece of the section title,” Wrona said. “We needed this.”

The Wildcats will have to bounce back quickly. They are tied with Neshannock (4-6) for the last playoff spot and will host the Lancers on Tuesday, with the loser quite likely out of the playoff race.

“We got to forget it,” Shenango coach Bob McQuiston said. “With Neshannock coming in Tuesday, we can’t take a break. We have to take care of business.”

Gaston had 15 points for the Wildcats, with Tanner (10 points) and Andrew Watson (14 points) chipping in.

Shaffer had 21 points to lead the Warriors. Lorello added 14 points and 10 rebounds and five assists, Henry had 13 points and nine boards, with Nesbitt checking in with 10 points and several clutch defensive plays.

“We never thought we’d lose, never,” said Nesbitt, still hoarse from celebrating with teammates and classmates on the floor.

Frederick was laughing afterward. Henry still couldn’t breathe well. Lorello looked like he might pass out.

Yet they all volunteered for a shootaround this morning at 10:30.

Mental toughness.
Nightly Roundup
Game Scoreboard
Shenango 5 21 15 14 14 69
Mohawk 9 17 12 17 23 78
Box Scores
Field Goals Attempted Foul Shots Made Foul Shots Three Points Total Points Fouls
Brian Chieze431090
Rich Gaston5950150
Jesse Noca000000
Mike Murcko8332210
Ryan Tanner3213100
Andrew Watson4842140
James Vournous000000
Bobby Gwin000000
#3 Justin Shaffer6753210
#5 Michael Henry31270130
#21 Cory Nesbitt3431100
#23 Chase Frederick5880180
#44 Matt Lorello7400140
#32 Matt Jura022020
#41 Dan Powell000000
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