Neshannock girls cruise to WPIAL semifinals
Neshannock (65) Vs. Charleroi (36)
Feb 25, 2017
By Clay Sauertieg
New Castle News
It was business as usual for the Neshannock High girls basketball team on Saturday.
The Lady Lancers, in the playoffs for the fifth-consecutive season, rolled past Charleroi, 65-36, at North Hills High School to advance to the WPIAL Class 3A semifinals.
Neshannock (22-1) received the third seed in Class 2A heading into the playoffs and, subsequently, a first-round bye. This meant it had nearly two weeks off between the final regular season game and the first game of the playoffs.
The Lady Lancers showed no signs of rust, however, jumping all over the Lady Cougars (19-5) to take a 41-13 lead after the first half.
"I was really worried coming in with the two-week layoff," Neshannock coach Luann Grybowski said. "I was worried about our crispness, but we started off phenomenally. We scored on the first five possessions of the game and did a great job defensively in the first half."
Neshannock scored early and often in the contest, led by sophomore Bella Burrelli and junior Carmie Matarazzo, both of whom finished with 19 points to lead the way for the winners.
Seniors Aidan Noga and Regan Moorhouse led the way defensively for the Lady Lancers. Noga and Moorhouse make up the starting backcourt and are the only two seniors on the team. Their aggressive defense, which involved active hands and hedging hard on opponents' ball screens, caused issues throughout the contest for Charleroi ball handlers.
"That's kind of what we like to do," Grybowski said of the aggressive defense. "We like to jump (the screen) a little bit and because everybody can defend a guard and a forward, so we can be a little bit flexible on the defensive end."
The Lady Lancers' defense held the Lady Cougars to just five field goals in the first half and just four points in the second quarter, during which Neshannock extended its lead from 11 points after the first quarter to 28 points at half.
Things were a bit more balanced coming out of the break, as Charleroi outscored Neshannock 13-8 in the third quarter. Grybowski said she felt her team may have become complacent with the large halftime lead.
"I was disappointed in the third quarter," she said. "We didn't do what we're supposed to. They got a bit lazy. You're up by 28 and you just stop doing what you need to do, and that was most of our issues. But if you play three out of four good ones and you win by 30, I'll take it every time."
Ally Zarilla joined Matarazzo and Burrelli in double figures with 10 points off the bench for Neshannock.
"Ally came off the bench and hit two threes right away. Those type of players that know their role and do a great job of it are just as important as anyone else," Grybowski said.
The Lady Lancers now head into the semifinals to take on undefeated East Allegheny (23-0). The Lady Wildcats are the second seed in the tournament and dispatched of Avonworth, 68-59 in the quarterfinals.
"They're very good," Grybowski said. "We're going to have to play a very good game defensively and offensively. So we have our work cut out for us."
A win in the semifinals would move Neshannock one step closer to claiming its first-ever WPIAL girls basketball title.