Rochester rolls to win over Mohawk
Mohawk (38) Vs. Rochester (70)
Dec 18, 2009
By DAN IRWIN
Mohawk seldom got close to Rochester in the two teams’ WPIAL Section 2-AA opener last night.
But each time the Warriors did get within striking distance, the Rams answered with some serious scoring and wound up rolling to a 70-38 victory on Mohawk’s hardwood.
“We always go cold at first,” Rochester head coach Paul Long. “It’s like we have to get warmed up, then we start playing basketball the way it’s supposed to be.
“But the kids work real hard, I can’t take anything from them.”
Mohawk (2-2 overall) managed a 5-5 tie about five minutes into the opening quarter, only to have the Rams (5-0) finish the period on a 13-5 run.
The Warriors cut the deficit to 18-14 early in the second period, but the Rams’ subsequent 15-7 spurt gave them a 33-21 halftime advantage.
“The first half, we weren’t exactly playing sharp,” Mohawk head coach Kevin Wrona said.
“I know it was 12 (points at halftime), but we kind of felt like we were there. If we could make a few plays early in the third quarter, you never know what could happen.
“But obviously, that was the furthest thing from what happened.”
Jake Grim gave Mohawk its last glimmer of hope when he opened the third quarter by planting a jumper from the top of the key, making it a 10-point game. The Rams, though, responded with 11 unanswered points to take command.
E.J. Blackwell paced Rochester with 28 points, followed by Giovanni Ellis with 19.
Grim, who had averaged 29 points per game over Mohawk’s first three outings, was held to 18 last night.
Rochester made Grim its top priority defensively, opening with Trey Johnson shadowing him in a man defense. Johnson picked up his second personal foul late in the first quarter, and the Rams fell back into a 2-3 zone, but neither Grim nor his teammates could capitalize.
“We shaded his way, we would run a shade toward him,” Long said. “But no matter who watched him, they all did a nice job.
“We can mix it up. We’re just as good man to man as we are zone — and we didn’t even press tonight. We usually like to press, but we didn’t really mess with it too much.”
Wrona also lauded the Rams’ “D.”
“They played some tough defense,” he said. “Every time you get by one guy, there’s two more staring at you.
“Teams are going to do that, they’re going to play their defenses to try to take Jake out of things, and Jake’s going to have to be ready for those sorts of things.”
If there was any consolation to be found, it was the fact that the loss came in only the first game of section play.
“We’re playing a lot of kids who don’t have a lot of varsity basketball experience,” Wrona said. “It’s a process. That’s what I try to tell the kids, you’ve got to stay the course, and it starts with how you practice.
“And there are some things we need to improve in practice. We’ve got some guys who are not practicing as hard as they should be.”
It remains to be seen if the Warriors can indeed turn things around. Last night, though, Wrona was certain of one thing.
“It’s been a long time since we had an outcome like that in this gym,” he said. “It’s a tough pill to swallow.”