Neshannock succumbs to Shady Side zone
Neshannock (34) Vs. Shady Side (59)
Feb 09, 2008

NATRONA HEIGHTS — Just before halftime Saturday afternoon, Jim Smiley was faced with an interesting decision.

“What basketball do you want to start the half with?” an official asked the Neshannock High boys basketball coach, who stared over his two options at the scorers’ table before choosing the ball that the Lancers brought for the game.

“Let’s hope this one goes in,” Smiley said.

It didn’t.

After battling so hard the last two weeks to just get in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs, Neshannock struggled all game with Shady Side Academy’s 2-3 zone defense, losing 59-34 in a preliminary round game at Highlands High School.

The most frustrating part of the loss is that the Lancers (11-11) knew the zone was coming. Smiley said that his team practiced well against it all week, but became flustered during the game.

“We played just too far away from the basket and couldn’t get in the gaps,” Smiley said. “You need to penetrate it.”

Neshannock shot 13-for-42 from the field (30 percent), and mostly played catch out front, without creating opportunities to score. Most shots were either forced 3-pointers or mid-range jumpers from outside the key.

The Lancers went nearly seven minutes without a field goal over the first and second quarters — missing 12 shots in a row at one point — but still were only down 20-12 at the half.

“It was beyond terrible,” Smiley said of the first half.

The second half was even worse.

Neshannock had three turnovers in its first four possessions of the half. Shady Side hit four straight 3-pointers in a three-minute span. Then, Indians’ forward Dan Rooney – the grandson of the Pittsburgh Steelers owner, who was in attendance — banged inside for a layup.

Boom, boom, boom — Shady Side led 40-16.

Heads dropped. Lancers’ fans got quiet. It began to sink in that the season, and for some senior players, their basketball careers, were about to come to an end.

The lone bright spot for the Lancers came at the 2:43 mark of the third quarter, when senior guard Mike Conglose scored his 1,000th career point on a strong drive to the hoop. Conglose led Neshannock with 11 points.

“I think the world of Mike,” Smiley said.

“I was worried about him since I found out who we were playing,” Indians’ coach Terence Parham added. “(Conglose and Neshannock) just had a rough time shooting.”

Shady Side (18-7) continued to dominate in the fourth quarter, going up 55-24 on Jerome Barnes’ reverse layup before both coaches emptied the bench.

Barnes and Bill Nickel each had 13 points to lead the Indians. Ben Kander and Robert Bennent each had eight points, with Rooney adding a game-high eight rebounds.

While Neshannock didn’t make many shots, it didn’t rebound well either, getting beaten on the glass 34-20.

“That’s when you know the zone is working,” Parham said.

The Indians move on to play South Fayette (19-5) on Tuesday or Wednesday in a first-round game.

While his team showed tons of heart down the stretch, Smiley expected more from this group, which some pegged as a Section 2-AA favorite in the preseason.

“We never really developed a character — we struggled to find a personality,” Smiley said.

“Toward the end (of the regular season) we finally started to play well,” he continued. “Maybe we just gave everything we had just to get here and there was nothing left.”
Nightly Roundup
Feb 09, 2008 Nightly Roundups
Game Scoreboard
Neshannock 6 6 10 12 0 34
Shady Side 11 9 26 13 0 59
Box Scores
Field Goals Attempted Foul Shots Made Foul Shots Three Points Total Points Fouls
#2 Joey Fontana100020
#22 Mike Conglose5001110
#23 Michael Richards300060
#33 Bobby Nittinger244080
#3 J.T. Graham000000
#50 Eric Bruening000000
#4 Chris Graziani000000
#1 C.J. VanEman000000
#20 Bryce Kauffman000000
#15 Brandon Fischer000000
#10 Brandon Doran000000
#34 Josh Brown111030
#11 Max Ramsey100130
#21 Tony Kirkwood000000
#44 Ryan Iorio000000
Shady Side
Bill Nickel5003130
Jerome Barnes6201130
Ben Kander400080
Ed Sheerer200260
Dan Rooney141030
Mark Reynolds300060
Robert Bennett400080
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