Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
The Mohawk High boys basketball team earned its first WPIAL playoff win since 2006 on Saturday.
Now, the Warriors are looking to claim multiple district postseason victories for the first time since before the 1998 season.
The task won’t be easy, though.
The 14th-seeded Warriors (10-13) will battle Seton-La Salle at 8 p.m. today at Peters Township High School. The third-seeded Rebels (20-2) are ranked No. 3 in the WPIAL in Class AA by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“They’re a good basketball team with a nice combination of players,” Mohawk coach Rob Fadden said. “They have size inside and their guards are solid outside.”
The Warriors held off Serra Catholic in a preliminary-round matchup, 49-43, while Seton-La Salle had a bye.
Though the Rebels have caught the attention of most throughout the district, coach Mark Walsh overlooks the hype.
“We don’t even really focus on the rankings or anything other than our practice and our next opponent,” he said. “We can be beat by anybody; you have to constantly remind yourself of that.
“A lot of times it’s who really gets hot at the end of the season. We just say let’s just get a little better every day. Rankings are nice, but I don’t really ever look at it. You have to beat everybody you play in the playoffs, no matter where they seed you.”
Dale Clancy, a 5-foot-10 junior point guard, leads Seton-La Salle in scoring at 14 points a game.
“He plays like he looks on film. He’s a heck of a player and he’s quick,” Fadden said. “He will look to shoot the ball, but he wants to create, first.
“He’s got a very nice handle on the ball. He will penetrate if it’s there.”
Levi Masua, a 6-5 junior forward, and Malik White, a 6-4 junior center, both toss in 12 markers a contest.
“Masua is a good player,” Fadden said. “He can step away from the hoop a little more than White can.
“I thought he was more of a true post player, but he was knocking down some threes on film. White is a real nice post player. He runs the floor very well; they have a few weapons.”
The Section 4 champion Rebels are averaging 65.8 points a game and limiting the opposition to 44.9.
“They like to get out and run,” Fadden said. “If they don’t get anything, they’re pretty disciplined and will get into the half court sets.
“Defensively, they get after it. They play pretty hard on defense.”
GRIM PACES WARRIORS
Lucas Grim, a 6-1 senior guard, leads Mohawk at 11.3 points a game.
“He’s a good outside shooter. They have a number of good outside shooters,” Walsh said. “Grim can really shoot the ball well. If you leave him open, he’ll make it.”
Ryan Sager, a 6-0 senior guard, chips in 9.1 markers a contest for the Warriors.
“Sager is really quick and athletic,” Walsh said. “He can get by guys and to the basket. He looks like a good shooter.
“Sager can slash and get to the basket. I can see him being a tough matchup for teams because he plays hard and hustles.”
Mohawk nets 48 points a game and gives up 51.3.
“They’ve played two styles from what I’ve seen,” Walsh said. “They like to get it up and down the floor. Other times they’re able to come up and be able to run their offense and get the ball in positions where they can be most successful. I think they can play a slowdown game if someone wants to play that way.
“Defensively, I’ve seen some zone press and some man. They’re just going to try and pressure the ball. They can match up and be physical when they switch defenses.”
CLEAN IT UP
Mohawk’s offense has struggled at times this year. The Warriors had a rough stretch in the preliminary round, turning the ball over on seven straight possessions. Fadden said his team will have to eliminate that tonight.
“We have to control the tempo, reduce our turnovers and rebound the basketball,” he said. “For the most part, we’ve done a good job rebounding this year.
“We go through stretches where we make terrible decisions with the ball, though. We can’t go through spells like that against Seton-La Salle and expect to win.”
The winner advances to the quarterfinals to meet the survivor of the Quaker Valley-Riverside matchup at a time and site to be determined.
(To check out a photo gallery and stories from last night’s WPIAL playoff action, CLICK HERE.)