Mohawk clinches share of crown
Mohawk (75) Vs. Laurel (53)
Jan 27, 2009
Special to the News
There was an impromptu ceremony last night at the Mohawk High gym.
A basketball net was cut down.
OK, so it’s a little early in the season to be dragging out the ladder and scissors. But when a school hasn’t won a boys basketball section title since 1986, the team gets a pass.
Behind the solid inside play of Matt Lorello, Mohawk defeated Laurel, 75-53, to clinch at least a share of the WPIAL Section 2-AA crown.
With three section games remaining, the Warriors (16-2 overall, 9-0 in the section) hold a three-game lead over New Brighton, which defeated Summit Academy last night.
Mohawk will be the outright champ if it wins any of its remaining three regular-season games or if New Brighton loses.
“We’ve been in sections with very good teams — Blackhawk and then for a while Farrell, so it’s been a while,” Mohawk coach Kevin Wrona said while clutching the net. “We just decided to celebrate a little bit.”
Wrona was a sophomore on the 1986 team that was coached by the legendary John Samsa.
“To be a part of that and then to end up here and be the coach when we did it again, it’s kind of special,” Wrona said.
Speaking of special, Lorello, a 6-foot-4 senior, was just that in the first quarter. He scored 12 of his game-high 27 points in the period and paced the Warriors to an 18-9 lead after the first eight minutes.
He missed just one of his first seven shots.
“He’s our go-to guy and we have unselfish kids who will get him the ball,” Wrona said. “The first couple times (down the court) we wanted to get the ball to him down low. When he gets his shoulders square to the basket he’s tough to stop.”
No need to tell Laurel coach Mike Tinstman about that. In the first meeting between the teams, Lorello scored 29 points.
“They did a little high-low and isolated him,” Tinstman said. “We didn’t do a good job of stopping him from getting the ball, but he had a big game against us at our place and that was a two-point game until the end.
“The big thing for us was that we didn’t match their intensity. And we didn’t shoot the ball well. We’re pretty much a perimeter team and if we don’t make seven or eight 3s, we have problems.”
Laurel, which dropped to 7-10 overall and 3-7 in the section, made only one 3-point shot. Eric Wallas, who finished with 20 points, made that one in the first quarter.
Lorello said he didn’t know why he has big games against Laurel other than the Spartans are a rival.
“They’re a local team and you have to get up when you play the local teams,” he said.
Lorello wasn’t the only Mohawk weapon. Jake Grim came on in the second half to score 14 of his 18 points. And Michael Henry chipped in with 10.
The only worry Wrona had coming into the game was that his players would be tentative because of the importance of the contest. With that in mind, he kept telling his players to attack the basket, which they did.
Mohawk built a commanding 36-20 lead at the half and then ended any thoughts of a Laurel comeback in the first four minutes of the third quarter. The Warriors scored the first two baskets of the second half and had a 47-24 lead with 4:21 left in the third period.
“That’s what we wanted — come out hard at the start of the second half and get some separation,” Wrona said. “That’s what we did last week against New Brighton and we did it again.”
When asked what it was like to take part in a cutting down the net ceremony a big smile crossed Lorello’s face.
“I didn’t know we were going to do it,” he said. “It was a great feeling.”