Shenango squanders lead, loses to New Brighton
Shenango (38) Vs. New Brighton (40)
Jan 31, 2009
By JOHN D’ABRUZZO
It was a chess match of sorts between coaches last night at Shenango High.
And they used time as a pawn.
Mike DeChellis and his New Brighton boys basketball team took advantage of Shenango squandering the majority of the third quarter and parts of the fourth en route to sealing up a 40-39 WPIAL Section 2-AA victory.
“I don’t know what to say ... I guess we didn’t finish it down the stretch,” Shenango coach Bob McQuiston said.
It was the Wildcats’ fifth loss by three or less points this season and fourth during this month alone.
“It’s a big-time win for us,” said DeChellis, who’s on the verge of coaching the Lions to their first winning season in 10 years. “Shenango’s a good ball team. They’ve had some tough losses this season. We knew they were going to come out and play desperate. They know they have to win.
“I feel they can still get in (to the playoffs). I felt all along that we had a good chance of getting into the playoffs, but it’s not getting to the playoffs as much it is how you get to the playoffs. To me, that’s more important. So winning in a tough environment like we did was big time.”
Shenango senior forward Rich Gaston helped the Wildcats (4-6 section, 7-12 overall) take a 22-18 lead in the half. Gaston scored all eight of Shenango’s first quarter points and 16 of his game-high 20 points in the first half. He also had nine rebounds.
“We know what we’re getting with Richie every night,” McQuiston said. “We know he’s going to score 20 points every night and he’s going to play strong every night, so that’s kind of expected.”
Since Shenango benefited so well from Gaston’s inside game, New Brighton (7-5 , 12-7) changed things up defensively at the start of the third quarter.
“I think we threw them off guard by getting into the 2-1-2 zone because we’ve never played that zone,” DeChellis said. “We had to change up because they were starting to make good plays on offense against our man.”
The Lions wouldn’t budge, so McQuiston had his players hold the ball for the majority of the closing three minutes of the quarter. The Wildcats set up one last play and Gaston missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
“We wanted them to come out and play man-to-man,” McQuiston said. “We were doing a good job against their man and were working the ball inside real well.
“I figured if they wanted to sit in there, we’ll let them sit there. We called a set at the end of the quarter, but we still didn’t get the shot we wanted.”
Shenango took a 28-26 lead into the fourth quarter but were outscored 14-10 in the final stanza.
“They were up two points and I knew we were struggling shooting the ball,” DeChellis said. “Matching-up wise, I knew I didn’t want to get out of that zone and let them make some plays.
“I felt that if we could make some stops we’d be in good shape. We got some stops and then we knew we had to play our regular game because they were going to attack. I don’t think they were ready for that and that hurt them.”
Missed foul shots also hurt the Wildcats. Shenango shot 4 of 14 for the game, including 2 of 8 in the fourth quarter.
“We missed 10 foul shots and that costs us the game,” McQuiston said. “We make our foul shots, we win the game.”
B.J. Pearson led the Lions with 13 points and Chris Weathers followed with 12.
Mike Murcko followed Gaston with 12 points. He kept Shenango close in the end by hitting a pair of 3s in the final 43 seconds of the game.