Laurel boys shoot past Mohawk
Laurel (71) Vs. Mohawk (42)
Jan 11, 2010
By DAN IRWIN
Turns out, everybody hit what they were shooting for.
En route to a 71-42 WPIAL Section 2-AA boys basketball win at Mohawk on Saturday, Laurel High’s players took aim at the basket and hit it with remarkable consistency.
The Spartans shot over 53 percent from the field, including seven of nine from 3-point range while building a 22-point halftime lead.
Laurel coach Mike Tinstman enjoyed seeing that, but he had something else in his sights.
“We’ve been struggling with our shooting,” Tinstman said. “We’re a better shooting team than we have been showing, so I was pleased to see that our shots were falling tonight.
“But Mohawk is a good team, and we knew we had to match their intensity. So our goal was to come out and play defense and hit the boards, and I thought we did that (with Laurel claiming a 42-24 edge in rebounding). That’s where the difference was. Even though we shot well, the intensity on defense and the boards made the difference.”
Mike Natale, who finished with 11 points, and Eric Wallas, who had 15, nailed three treys each in the first half as Laurel claimed a 41-19 halftime advantage. The Spartans (2-2 section, 5-4 overall) didn’t tally another 3-pointer the rest of the way, but 6-foot-4 senior Jake Dando kept things going by taking the scoring punch inside after the half.
Dando, who had Laurel’s seventh 3-pointer of the first half and 25 markers overall, scored all 12 of Laurel’s third-quarter points. All came from inside the paint, including eight on offensive rebounds.
Shane Caldararo keyed Laurel’s board dominance with 15 rebounds, while Dando grabbed 10.
Still, Mohawk coach Kevin Wrona said that it was the Spartans’ first-half shooting, particularly from beyond the arc, that seemed to seal his team’s fate.
“That allowed them to get some separation, and they gained a lot of confidence,” he said. “Maybe from our end, we had a little self-doubt start to creep in. (With) how good they were feeling, that’s not a good combination. I think things started to snowball and kind of got away from us.
“When we got behind, that took us out of what we wanted to do. We’re a team that’s just going to run our stuff. Once we got down in double digits, it became a little bit more difficult to do that.”
Jake Grim contributed 21 points to key Mohawk (1-2, 4-7). Eleven of those were in the first half, but only three came during the second quarter, when Laurel doubled its 11-point first-quarter lead.
Grim got little help, though, as no other Mohawk participant reached double figures, and only two contributed field goals — one for Michael Pope and a trey for Josh Morrow — over the first 16 minutes.
“They played their base man, and they were being very physical with (Grim), trying to make things difficult for him,” Wrona said. “He’s going to see that. We just have to be more mentally tough when we do see that type of aggressive approach toward him.”
The loss was particularly disappointing for Mohawk, coming as it did on the heels of an upset win over Neshannock earlier in the week.
“You wish you could bottle up what you had the one night and do that each and every night,” Wrona said. “That just doesn’t happen. That happens at all levels, where teams play lights out one night and, the following night, you’re nowhere near where you’d like to be.”
Of the win over Neshannock, he added: “That was frustrating we couldn’t build off that."
(Sportswriter Todd Krise contributed to this story).