Poor shooting proves costly for Neshannock in loss
Neshannock (47) Vs. Shade (60)
Mar 06, 2009

JOHNSTOWN — Clank, clank and clank.

Whether it was the front of the rim, the back of the rim or either sides of the metal circle, the Neshannock High boys basketball team made the sound ring clear across University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown Sport Center last night.

The Lancers shot a mere 27 percent — 15 of 54 — from the field en route to suffering a season-ending 60-47 PIAA Class A first-round loss to Shade.

“Unbelievable,” Neshannock coach John Corey said. “We didn’t do a lot of things on the defensive end that we needed to do. On top of that, we didn’t shoot the ball well. Obviously, with those two things, it’s going to equal a loss every time.”

Shade earned its program’s first state playoff victory. The Panthers (23-3) advance to the second round and will meet Serra Catholic (22-3) on Tuesday. Serra Catholic cruised past Conemaugh Valley (17-9) last night, 84-56.

Neshannock (17-8) fell behind midway through the first quarter and never got closer than five points late in the third quarter.

After taking a 12-11 lead in the first quarter, Shade opened the second period with an 8-2 run. To make matters worse for the Lancers, junior guard Bobby Nittinger picked up his second foul 51 seconds into the quarter and headed to the bench.

Nittinger, who entered the game averaging about 14 points a game, was filling in at point guard for senior Tony Kirkwood. Kirkwood was serving his one-game suspension following an on-court altercation with Serra Catholic’s T.J. Heatherington during the WPIAL semifinals.

“Now your top two scorers are out,” Corey said. “When you have 35 points sitting on the bench, that’s not going to help a situation.

“Tony might not have made that much of a difference in points. Yeah, he was averaging about 20 points, but he makes everybody else relaxed on the floor. He brings that stability to our team that we need, and I think Bobby has a much better game if Tony was out there.”

With Nittinger on one end of the bench and Kirkwood on the other end wearing street clothes including a white shirt and black tie, Joey Fontana took control of the ball.

Fontana, a junior guard, scored all seven of the Lancers' points as they trailed 27-18 at the half. Nittinger and Joey Fontana each scored 15 points to pace Neshannock.

“Not many people know this, but Joey had a sprained ankle all week,” said Corey, who noted Fontana injured his ankle during practice last Saturday. “He rehabbed all week. Him not being able to practice all week, I think he would have had a better game.

“He did step up. He’s a heck of an athlete and did a great job going to the hole.”

The Panthers used another 7-2 run toward the end of the period en route to outscoring Neshannock, 15-7.

“We got some good stops defensively,” Shade coach Wade Fyock said. “We rebounded reasonably well the whole game. We needed just enough to get the layup or the second opportunity from an offensive rebound.”

The Lancers began cutting the deficit early in the third quarter with a 6-2 run. Sophomore guard Brandon Marinelli hit a pair of foul shots to make it 29-24, but that would be as close as Neshannock would get.

“They went up by 10 or 11 a couple times and then we’d battle back to five,” Corey said. “Then you come down and miss two or three jump shots and then they hit a couple.”

The Panthers never buckled and held a 41-31 advantage entering the final stanza.

“We knew they were going to make a run,” Fyock said. “They tried some different looks defensively. How do you try to prepare for everything? But at this point in the season, you’ve seen different things and we’ve anticipated they were going to press.

“Fortunately, we were able to finish it out.”

Shade converted 18 of 26 from the foul line during the game, but it sank 15 of 20 in the fourth quarter alone.

“Those are the type of things you need to be able to do,” Fyock said. “We had it in our mind that we were going to try to use up some clock; when you do that, you better be able to hit your foul shots. For the most part, we were pretty good.”

Senior guard Joel Kaminsky led Shade with a game-high 24 points, including an 8-for-8 performance from the foul line. Senior guard Garrett Berkey followed with 10 points.

“I kept asking my assistants, ‘What do we need to do? What do we need to do?’” Corey said. “It’s a very frustrating feeling. It’s a shame after everything we’ve accomplished and the successful season we’ve had to come out and play that bad.

“Shade’s a good basketball team, but I feel we played poorly. And it’s tough (to comprehend) when you know what your team is capable of doing.”
Nightly Roundup
Mar 06, 2009 Nightly Roundups
Game Scoreboard
Neshannock 11 7 13 16 0 47
Shade 12 15 14 19 0 60
Box Scores
Bobby Nittinger 6 0-1 15
Joey Fontana 6 3-4 15
Bryce Kauffman 3 0-0 6
Eric Bruening 1 3-4 5
Chris Graziani 1 0-0 2
Stephen Perrott 0 0-0 0
John Sansone 0 0-0 0
C.J. VanEman 0 1-2 1
Brandon Marinelli 0 3-4 3
Totals: 17 10-15 47

SHADE (60)
Garrett Berkey 4 2-7 10
Josh Barnes 3 2-2 8
Brandon Kudasik 0 5-6 5
Joel Kaminsky 7 8-8 24
Kenny Gibbons 1 0-0 2
Tyler Smith 4 1-3 9
M.J. Knapp 1 0-0 2
Totals: 20 19-26 60

NESHANNOCK 11 7 13 16 — 47
SHADE 12 15 14 19 — 60

3-point goals — Neshannock 3 (Nittinger 3), Shade 2 (Kaminsky 2).
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