New Castle News

Sports

February 15, 2013

WPIAL Boys Playoffs: Mohawk set to battle Serra Catholic

NEW CASTLE — It’s an opportunity four years in the making.

That’s how long it’s been since the Mohawk boys basketball team has gotten a taste of the WPIAL playoffs.

Now that the drought has ended, the Warriors would prefer that their season not end any time soon.

“I think our guys are looking at it kind of like I am. It doesn’t matter where or when,” Mohawk coach Rob Fadden playing. “We’re happy to be in and playing.”

The Warriors (9-13) start their postseason run at 3 p.m. tomorrow when they square off against Serra Catholic (13-8) in a Class AA preliminary-round matchup at Chartiers Valley High School.

TALE OF TWO SEASONS

Perhaps one of the most interesting story lines going into the game is how the two teams played in the second half of the regular season. After hot starts, both clubs suffered losing streaks and limped into the postseason.

Mohawk began the season 7-6 before dropping seven of its next nine games. It needed a win over Shenango and a New Brighton loss to sneak into a tie for fourth place and the last playoff spot in Section 2 (with Aliquippa).

The Eagles made the jump from Class A to Class AA over the summer and appeared to be one of the top teams in the classification after a 9-0 start. Success isn’t something foreign to Serra Catholic, since it made the playoffs for nine straight seasons, winning eight section championships in a row and taking home the PIAA and WPIAL Class A titles in 2008 under now-retired coach Bob Rozanski. But, offensive struggles mired the Eagles in the second half this season, as the team finished 4-8.

 “It was immaturity; no doubt about it,” third-year coach Vince Gibbons said. “We hit a wall there. Our defense was playing really good, but our offense was scoring in high 40s or low 50s. We had to go back to fundamentals — running the floor and having guys buy into a team concept.”

There is merit to immaturity through youth, as the Eagles field a roster with nine sophomores and just two seniors.

Gibbons has been a part of the Serra Catholic program for 11 years, spending eight seasons under Rozanski as an assistant. Despite a long run of playoff success, he isn’t overlooking a tough Warriors squad.

“I’m not blowing smoke, I have a great deal of respect for that team. Their kids play hard and intense. They might not be the most talented bunch, but they outwork everybody,” he said. “Their defense is good, and they play as a team. I’m used to playing very selfish and inferior opponents in Round One, and we end up winning by 30 or 35. This is a reality check right now. We’re very capable of losing this game to this team. They’ve totally bought in to what he (Fadden) has accomplished there.”

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