Steve Antuono led the Ellwood City Lincoln High boys basketball team to something it hasn’t done in his six-year tenure — sweep Neshannock.
That changed Tuesday as Ellwood City (7-0 section, 17-2 overall) coasted to a 51-32 WPIAL Section 1-3A victory over the Lancers.
“Not since I’ve been here. I don’t know before me,” Antuono said. “We’ve never swept Neshannock.”
Last year was a different story as Neshannock was the one who swept Ellwood City before the Wolverines won on their home floor in the WPIAL Class 3A semifinals.
Joseph Roth paced Ellwood City with 19 points and Steve Antuono, coach Antuono’s son, had 17.
“That’s what we do best is that we’re all unselfish,” the younger Antuono said. “Nobody really cares who’s scoring. When we notice guys are getting into the rhythm we’re always looking for them. No one is really worried about points or anything like that. Sometimes we can get too unselfish because we love sharing the ball.
“Tonight was on our side. We were hitting a lot of shots early and they just didn’t knock them down. That’s where that lead came in early.”
Alexander Roth chipped in 12 points putting him 13 points away from 1,000 career points.
“It’s always been about those three and adding Joe to the mix and then Milo Sesti,” coach Antuono said. “Milo does so much and he’s never mentioned. When he went out of the game there with the injury we started falling apart on the press. Those three guys have just been steady, they’re senior leaders and Joe is obviously is a sophomore.
“Steve, Milo and Alexander are senior leaders, they’ve been here before obviously after last year’s success. One of those guys is always stepping up for the other in the scoring department.”
The first quarter saw a sluggish start from both teams with only six total buckets drained and ended with Neshannock (4-3, 13-4) trailing Ellwood City, 9-5.
“Defensively they’re a very tough team to game plan for,” Neshannock coach John Corey said. “They have multiple scorers night in and night out. The two Roths (Joseph and Alexander) and Steve (Antuono) all in or around twenty points a game. Deciding a defensive game plan for a three-headed monster becomes a little more difficult. Seeing how they struggled against the press there late. Obviously you look back and say ‘Well I wish we would’ve pressed a little more like that.’
“Game plan wise, I wish we would’ve gone to some of that earlier.”
Ellwood City put pressure on Neshannock’s offense in the second quarter to go into the half with a lead of 24-8.
“We work on our defense and work on different things based on who we play like anybody else,” coach Antuono said. “It just took us a while. They’re kids. It’s a packed house; they’re anxious to get going. I was very pleased. If you hold Neshannock to eight points and they got some players over there and some shooters, to me I couldn’t ask for anything else.”
Mike Sopko led Neshannock with 10 points.