Ellwood boys fall in first round to Washington
Ellwood City (29) Vs. Washington (57)
Feb 18, 2017
By Clayton Sauertieg
New Castle News
The Ellwood City Lincoln High boys basketball team knew it was in for a tough test on Saturday.
The Wolverines were making their first playoff appearance since 2010-2011 and were faced with second-seeded Washington, which despite missing leading scorer Matt Popeck because of an injury, came into the contest as the heavy favorite.
Despite the best efforts of junior Anthony Roth, who led his team with 10 points, and a spirited first-half defensive effort, Ellwood fell to the Little Prexies, 57-29.
"We came in pretty confident," first-year Ellwood coach Steve Antuono said. "But they came out strong on both ends of the floor. We had some trouble breaking their press, and obviously (Washington's Isaiah Robinson) looked like an All-American out there today."
Robinson was all over the court for the Little Prexies (19-4), leading the scoring with 28 points and forcing a number of turnovers at the top of a 1-2-2 full-court pressure defense.
Robinson scored 20 of his 28 in the first half when his team needed him most. With Popeck out and the Wolverines (9-11) playing active defense, Washington led just 28-15 at the half.
"Isaiah was big for us today," Washington coach Ron Faust said. "Obviously with Matt out we needed some guys to step up today and he stepped up in a big way."
The Wolverines attempts to close the gap were stifled as they struggled to break down a Washington defense that regularly switched its zone defenses to get Ellwood City out of sync.
"The bottom line is that we never had an opportunity to get into an offensive set in the half court," Antuono said. "So, credit to them. They just get pressure on the whole game."
Washington was able to build its lead to 36-18, scoring the first 11 points of the second half before a Broc Boariu 3-pointer for Ellwood stopped the run. The Little Prexies continued to pressure, however, building a 41-22 lead through three quarters while constantly stifling the Wolverines' guards in the backcourt.
"We just didn't do enough fundamentally," Antuono said of his team's performance. "It's like I've said before, we have do the fundamentals well. Good teams do that, especially at the high school level and we just didn't do enough of that."
The Little Prexies were able to close things out in the fourth, going 8 of 16 from the line in the final period to close things out. While Antuono's side couldn't come up with the victory, he said that there's a lot his team can take away.
"We made progress throughout the year," he said. "Obviously it's my first year here and we hadn't been in the playoffs for a while, I'm just happy for the program and for the community and that the kids got a chance to see this."
Though Antuono is happy with the progress his program has made, he feels there's more left to be done.
"Obviously we wanted to advance," he said. "But we'll just keep working and try to get back."
Washington advances and will meet Aliquippa on Thursday at a time and site to be determined.