Shenango beats Summit Academy in section opener
Shenango (66) Vs. Summit Academy (55)
Dec 12, 2008
By DAN IRWIN
Mike Murcko showed up early and stayed late in Shenango High’s WPIAL Section 2-AA opener last night.
The 6-foot-6 senior knocked down a career-high 32 points to lift the Wildcats to a 66-55 homecourt win over Summit Academy.
He not only got the ’Cats off to a quick start by scoring 12 of their 15 first-quarter points, but also helped seal the win with 11 fourth-quarter tallies, including a 9-of-10 stanza at the foul line.
“Mike is probably our best shooter,” said Shenango head coach Bob McQuiston, whose team improved to 2-3 overall. “He’s got a nice touch around the rim. The nice thing was the guards were finding him in the first half. We kind of knew the high post would be open in the first half, and we found him, and he was able to knock down the shots.
“Summit made a little change in defense and started guarding him a little closer, then down the stretch we wanted the ball in his hands because we know he can shoot foul shots.”
Murcko’s fast start was especially key after 6-5 forward Rich Gaston, who had been averaging nearly 16 ppg., picked up his second personal foul just two minutes into the game and headed to the bench.
“Usually Rich is our go-to guy,” Murcko said. “It’s nice to take the pressure of off him. Our guards did a good job of getting me the ball. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have got any of those good looks.”
Summit rallied from its 15-10 first-quarter deficit to knot the score at 24-all by halftime. The score remained deadlocked, 33-33, with three minutes to go in the third, but the ’Cats opened things up with a 14-3 scoring run over the rest of the quarter. Gaston keyed the spurt with 7 of his 13 points and Dave McCowin (11 points) capped it with a 30-foot trey at the buzzer.
Keith Bonichar boasted the hot hand for the Knights (1-3 overall), popping in five 3-pointers on the way to a 33-point night. Ironically, though, he missed a chance to pull his team to within two points of Shenango with 3:09 to play when he failed to convert his only two free throw attempts of the night.
Gaston (who had team-high 11 rebounds) followed the misses with a layup to put the ’Cats ahead 55-49 with just under two minutes remaining. Then, keyed by Murcko’s effort, Shenango drained 11-of-14 free throws the rest of the way to hold off the Knights.
“Foul shots are something I work on a lot in my free time,” said Murcko, who was 12-of-15 overall from the line. “I want coach to know that if I’m going up to the line, he can trust me to put them down.”
Summit head coach Cliff Guy rotated 12 players in and out of the game in an attempt to keep constant pressure on the ’Cats.
“We want to attack and have pressure so we need fresh legs,” he said. “Kids are feeding into that. They’re understanding ‘I’m not starting, but when I get in there I’m going to do the best I can do.’
“I’m seeing some good things. People are finding their roles and understanding what they need to do.”
McQuiston conceded that the Knights’ pressure seemed to bother his team early on, but that his players adjusted well.
“I thought our guards did a pretty good job tonight,” he said. “They rattled us a little bit at the beginning, and then we calmed down and did a good job looking for shots, penetrating through it.
“I thought Brian Herb (10 points) did a nice job penetrating through it and dishing it off to an open shooter.”