The High boys basketball team tried to slow the pace of lastnight's game against Shenango.
It may have worked for a half, but there was no slowing down Steve McNees.
The Wildcats' senior guard scored a game-high 36 points, 25 after halftime, to lead Shenango to a 54-41 Section 2-AA victory.
"I guess we are like everybody else, we have not figured out a way to stop him" Mohawk coach Kevin Wrona said. "He's a tremendous player. Part of our game plan was trying to limit the number of touches he could actually have. The possessions he did have, he maximized."
Shenango coach and Steve's father, Bill McNees, said his son is not easy to stop.
"He's the type of kid that is going to adjust to what's going on and make plays," Bill McNees said. "What makes him so special is he is able to step up when he is needed to step up. And he stepped up tonight."
The victory keeps Shenango perfect in section play at 4-0, and improved its overall record to 10-3. The loss evened Mohawk's section record at 2-2 and dropped its overall slate to 8-4.
After a lengthy junior varsity contest and a pre-game ceremony where Bill McNees received a plaque and a commemorative basketball in honor of his 300th career coaching victory last week, it seemed as if Mohawk was still not ready to start the game.
The Warriors' patient style of offense delayed the game's first points until Steve McNees scored with four minutes left in the first quarter. Shenango held a slim 8-4 lead after the first quarter.
"It was not that we were deliberately sitting on the ball, we were just looking for the best shot possible," Wrona said. "We were not going to come out and just start firing 3s. We were going to be patient and work the ball."
The second quarter was the same slow and steady pace of the first. Mohawk was able to double its output to eight, but still trailed 18-12 at halftime. In the second half, the pace and the intensity picked up.
Each team's offensive game moved to inside the paint and the physical section game that everyone was expecting finally got under way.
"They always play physical. They play strong and hard," Bill McNees said of Mohawk. "But guess what? We were every bit of effective as they were on the glass and that was a key coming in. My big guys did an outstanding job and battled them tooth and nail."
But Steve McNees thrived in the physical environment that was the second half.
His numerous drives to the hoop led to layups or trips to the foul line. McNees took over the game as Mohawk tried numerous defenders, each not having very much success at stopping him. He scored 14 points in the third quarter before closing the game in the fourth with free throws that sealed the win.
"We are a little disappointed. We did not come here to try and keep it close. We came here to win a game," Wrona said. "It was an opportunity on the road and we did not get it taken care of."
Richard Colick led the Warriors with 12 points and seven rebounds. Matt Wier added 11 markers, shooting a perfect seven for seven from the foul line.
Shenango and Mohawk both return to the hardwood on Tuesday with section games against Lawrence County teams. The Wildcats travel to Neshannock and the Warriors visit Laurel. Both games tip off at 7:30 p.m.
Patricia Moose, 61, wife of James Moose, died Sept. 18, 2020, at home. A Celebration of Life service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday at New Life Baptist. Arrangements by Cunningham Funeral Home.
Ilene Marie Upperman, 78, of Edgebrook Lane, New Wilmington, died on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, at Hillside Rehabilitation Center in Warren, Ohio. She was born in New Castle on Feb. 7, 1942, a daughter of the late John and Mary (Korab) Iwanejko. She was married to the late Arthur S. Upperman Sr…