Shenango holds on for win over West Middlesex
West Middlesex (47) Vs. Shenango (53)
Dec 10, 2010
SPECIAL TO THE NEWS
The height and size advantage was with West Middlesex, but those two things do not always win basketball games.
The Shenango High boys basketball team hustled its way to a 14-point lead late in the third quarter, then held on in the final period for a 53-50 victory against West Middlesex in the first game of the Neshannock Tipoff Tournament last night.
The Wildcats will take on Neshannock, a 77-44 winner against Union in the second game, in the tournament’s championship contest at 7:30 p.m. today. West Middlesex and Union will tangle at 6 p.m.
The fourth quarter between West Middlesex and Shenango was more than interesting. The Big Reds outscored Shenango, 22-13, in the period and tied the score at 46, with 2:13 remaining. But the Wildcats were not about to let the game get away.
“We have some players with experience in Jeff (Williams) and Brett (Chieze) and Jordan (O’Hara). They were in close games last year,” Shenango coach Bob McQuiston said.
“It helps being in that situation and knowing how to handle it,” Williams said.
Shenango didn’t panic when West Middlesex, which struggled to make 3-point shots most of the evening, finally started to find the range in the fourth quarter.
With the score tied 46-all Williams, who had a game-high 25 points, 19 in the second half, put in a layup. He then banged in a 3-pointer from the right wing with 1:28 left to play to put the Wildcats up, 51-46.
“That was one of those shots that when he took it you say, ‘No!’ but when it goes in you’re like, ‘Yes!’” McQuiston said.
But West Middlesex, which had the height advantage with 6-foot-4 James Gearhart and 6-3 Matt Dogan — Shenango’s tallest starter is 6-3 junior Mike Linz — wasn’t about to go away. Gearhart put in a layup to trim the lead to three and Shenango left the door open by missing two of three free throws.
Dogan, who scored 20 points for West Middlesex, made two free throws with 18 seconds left to close the gap to 52-50 and the Wildcats continued to use up lives when Chieze, who finished with 16 points, missed two free throws with 16 seconds remaining.
But West Middlesex missed on a 3-point attempt moments later and Shenango tracked down the rebound. O’Hara was fouled and made one of two free throws for the final score.
Williams was exception in the second half. He scored nine points in the third quarter as the Wildcats built a 38-24 lead while dealing with West Middlesex full-court pressure.
“They didn’t do anything we didn’t expect them to do,” Williams said. “I don’t know what to say about my scoring. I was just the one who was open.”
After starting the game playing man-to-man defense, Shenango shifted to a 2-3 zone in the second quarter when it became apparent West Middlesex was having trouble making outside shots. West Middlesex connected on just 10 of 27 field-goal attempts in the first half and missed on all six of its 3-point shots. It was also 1 for 8 at the foul line in the first half and finished the game 14 of 24 at the line.
Shenango stayed with the 2-3 zone until near the end of the fourth quarter.
“We have worked on the 2-3 zone but we don’t use it that much,” McQuiston said. “But we went with it because they were getting the ball inside.”
He also praised his “big” men, especially O’Hara and Linz, for the job they did against taller and wider West Middlesex.
“They really battled in there to get rebounds and loose balls,” McQuiston said. “That sometimes goes unnoticed, but that’s a big reason we held on to win. I’m proud of the effort we had.”