... And a child shall lead them.
On Senior Night at E.J. McCluskey Gymnasium, with a District 10 playoff berth on the line, freshman Malik Miller forged Farrell High boys basketball team.
Miller manufactured 9 fourth-frame markers — 14 in all — and the Steelers assured themselves a return to the postseason via a 54-46 Region 5-AAA victory over Sharon.
Referencing the capacity crowd, Miller admitted he was nervous, but didn’t seem so or play like it. His triple from the wing with 4:31 remaining snapped a 38-all stalemate. The Steelers never trailed again.
“We invested in him early, hoping that it would pay off toward the end of the season, and that’s exactly what it did,” veteran Steelers’ skipper Roland Shannonhouse said regarding Miller. “He started to mature, to play with more confidence, and better defensively ... but unbelievable job by that young man. Unbelievable!”
Miller misfired on his only 2 first-half floor shots, but connected on 4 of his last 5, tossing in 2 treys.
“He didn’t make any shots early, but did you see him hang his head and say, ‘Ah, take me out’ or, ‘I don’t want to play?’” 1st-year Tigers’ taskmaster Jason Rankin rhetorically asked. “(Miller) just kept playing. And then when the time came for him to make a big shot, he did.”
The teams split a pair of earlier meetings, though Farrell’s win occurred in its annual Dresch-McCluskey Holiday Classic, making it a must-win scenario for the Steelers.
Parlaying its man-to-man pressure fueled by quickness and athleticsim, Farrell forced Sharon into 13 second-half turnovers after the Tigers turned over the ball just 7 times during the 1st half.
“There’s a lot more advancements, no doubt about it, in the kids’ athleticism and basketball IQ and so forth,” Shannonhouse said, “but man-to-man defense has to be your foundation. And that’s the one thing I’m real proud about these guys: They actually got better and better throughout the course of the year playing man-to-man defense.
“If you can hold Sharon in the 40’s, you’ve done a decent job, I don’t care where it’s at — it can be on a playground — and I’m happy about that,” Shannonhouse admitted.
Simply stated, Sharon self-destructed, making one more 3rd-quarter turnover (8) than it committed during the entire 1st half.
“I’m not sure where are focus was,” Rankin admitted. “We felt we didn’t play well the first half, but had a chance to go out the second half and really make amends. But it seemed like we were just walking around. And (the Steelers) are just too quick for us to not come to a pass, or to throw a soft pass.
“They made some good plays, but it just seemed like one turnover turned into three, turned into five, and I think we just lost our focus,” Rankin reiterated.
“I think it was a mental lapse,” Rankin contiuned. “It was a tie game and Miller hit a three ... and then our mental lapse became, ‘Oh, we’re never gonna recover,’ then it went from three to seven because two or three possessions in a row we just didn’t do what we were supposed to.
“The game is played at a different speed when we play each other,” Rankin related, “and the reason why is because we’re so athletic — both teams. But, ironically, the athleticism slowed the game down, because teams became more deliberate trying to score.”
Both teams turned over the ball just 7 times during the 1st half and both connected on only 8 of 30 floor shots. Farrell mustered a 23-19 margin at intermission.
Khalil Hopson hit D’Amond Crawford with a pass and the latter covnverted at the 3rd-quarter buzzer as Sharon surged within 32-31.
But during the 4th frame the Steelers shot 5 for 11 from the field and Farrell forged 10-for-15 free-throw marksmanship, led by Jamel Brown’s 4-for-6 effort. Miller, Jason Page and Brown bucketed 9, 6 and 4 points, respectively, during the final canto.
Sharon (10-6, 12-10) shot only 19 for 52 from the field (36.5 percent), and more often than not the Tigers were one-and-done, owing to the boardwork of Farrell’s Ike Jones and Tyrone Archie, who annexed 11 and 12 caroms, respectively.
“Our ‘bigs’ played unbelievably!” Shannonhouse gushed. “They’ve been doing yeoman’s work for the last five, six games. They’ve actually turned the season around. They decided — on their own — ‘Hey, we’re gonna take this thing over and get us some wins.’ They put the team on their back, and that’s exactly what’s been happening.”
Farrell (11-5, 14-8) finished just 17 for 52 from the field (32.6), but the Steelers shot 16 for 23 from the line (69.5), compared with 6 for 8 for Sharon. In addition to Miller’s team-high 14 markers, Page provided 10, Jones and Brown evenly divided an additional 18, and Archie added 8.
Hopson hit a game-high 16 points to stoke Sharon, Crawford connected for 10 points and snared 7 caroms, and Mark Henry handed out 4 assists. However Darrell Stovall, Sharon’s leading rebounder, ripped down 5 first-quarter caroms, but was shut out thereafter.
Farrell outrebounded Sharon, 40-36.
Sharon split regular-season home-and-home series with Meadville and Franklin, so the Tigers’ postseason fate is to be determined.
“I was under the impression ... the whole way the thing’s set up, with Conneaut as a wild-card, there were possibly 10 teams that could make it,” Rankin related. “We had our chance, actually, to put our stamp on it and say, ‘We’re going.’ But now we had to wait and see if (the D-10 committee) feels like we’re good enough to make it.
“It’s nobody else’s fault but our own,” Rankin continued. “If we win the game — which we very well could have — then we know we’re going; now we leave it to somebody else and (the committee) has to decide.”
For a proud program such as Farrell, missing the 2012 postseason made the past year seem like a lifetime.
“Unbelievable feeling to watch these guys put in that type of effort during the season. To get off to that slow start (4-6), then they started coming together, making some shots, and their confidence started coming up,” Shannonhouse summarized. “For them to bounce back after that slow start and finish as strong as they did, there’s not enough words to say how proud I am of them.
“Anyting’s possible, and that’s exactly what we’re telling these guys,” Shannonhouse said. “You can’t really go by our record. We worked hard the second half of the season. Anything can happen.
“We’re not goin’ in there sayin’ that we’re gonna lose,” Shannonhouse said through a smile. “We’re goin’ in there hopin’ for the best, and that’s to win the championship.”
“I just tried to make good decisions and not turn the ball over,” Miller admitted, adding, “This makes me feel good;I feel comfortable now. We want to go to the playoffs and see what we can do. We want to win.” — By Ed Farrell, Herald assistant sports editor.
ä West Middlesex 102, Wilmington 69 — At West Middlesex, Matt Dogan scored the first 2 baskets for WM early in the 1st quarter to become Mercer County’s all-time leading scorer.
Dogan entered the game with 2,019 career points and rifled in 45 points against the Hounds to reach 2,064 points. The old mark was set during the 2007-08 season (2,022) by Kennedy Catholic’s Kyle Randall.
“I’m happy for him,” said WM coach Chad Mild. “If anybody deserves it, it’s him. We are just trying to stay low-key and are ready for the playoffs.”
The Region 1 champion Big Reds finished out the regular season with a perfect 12-0 record and 19-3 overall. They are ranked 6th in the state by the Harrisburg Patriot-News.
Trey Staunch fired in 21 points for WM and Jeremy Jancso scored 20.
Rocco Fagan led the way for Wilmington (5-7, 8-14) with 15 points, Jordan Smith scored 14 and Nate Anthony registered 11 markers.
ä Hickory 59, George Junior Republic 58 — At Grove City, coach Nick Cannone’s Region 5-AAA champion Hickory Hornets edged GJR in a thriller to close out the regular season with a 15-1 region record and 19-3 overall.
Matt Votino drained the game-winning basket with 4 seconds left as GJR held a 58-57 lead.
Votino rifled in 21 points for Hickory while Marcus Sonoga and Anthony Cannone scored 13 each for the Hornets.
Nafis Brown fired in 21 for GJR (5-11, 7-14), Malik Gibson bucketed 12 and Terrance Curtis added 10 points.
ä Sharpsville 62, Greenville 57 — On Senior Night at Sharpsville, the Blue Devils (6-6, 12-10) held off a Greenville rally to win the Region 2-AA clash.
The game was tied at 14-all after the opening 8 minutes and Sharpsville led 32-29 at the break. The Blue Devils took a 54-40 lead after 3, but the Trojans outscored the hosts 17-8 in the 4th quarter to make it close.
Tyler Luchey put on a show on Senior Night as he rifled in 31 points. Luchey, Jake Bulick, Jake Smith, Jalen Mockabee and Taylor Lenzi are Sharpsville’s seniors.
Matt Jones led Greenville (1-11, 5-17) with 14 points and Luke Houpt scored 13.
ä Mercer 66, Commodore Perry 43 — At Sheakleyville, the Mustangs (9-13) jumped out to a 23-10 lead after the opening quarter and never looked back in posting the non-region win over the Panthers (4-18).
Logan Clarke scored 15 for Mercer, Danny Miller tallied a dozen and Nate Guiler notched 11 points.
Sean Britton led the way for CP with 14 points and Brandon Stringert added 11 markers.
ä Central Tech 73, Grove City 58 — At Grove City, the Region 7-AAAA Falcons (17-5) led 44-39 at halftime and outscored GC 29-19 in the 2nd half to post the non-region win.
Eugene Husband had 18 for Central Tech, Deishaaron Gilmore scored 17 and Kiev Williams added 10 markers.
Danny Torok and Foster Reznor had 16 points each for Grove City (5-17) and Matt Thrasher tallied 13.
ä Cambridge Springs 70, Jamestown 34 — At Cambridge Springs, the Muskies (1-20) closed out a tough season with a non-region loss to Cambridge Springs (7-15).
Palmero (20), Drake (14) and Hahn (11) all scored in double digits for Cambridge Springs.
Alex Boylan bucketed 15 for Jamestown.
ä Brookfield 49, Conneaut 33 — In Ashtabula County, the Warriors (15-3) led 13-6 after the 1st quarter and rolled past the Spartans (5-12).
Jeremy Quinlan scored 18 to lead Brookfield, which plays at Springfield tonight, while Derek Dickson posted 10 points.
Bud Ritali scored 14 for Conneaut.
ä Sharon 57, Farrell 44 — In the lidlifter of a regular-season finale girls-boys twin bill at E.J. McCluskey Gymnasium, Sharon surged to a 2nd success in a 24-hour span.
The Lady Tigers’ wire-to-wire win was led by the trio of Tanayja Sanders, ’Tina Jacoway and Mallory Torr.
Sanders secured a game-high 16-point, 9-rebound outing; Jacoway joined in with a 13-point, 11-rebound, 3-assist line, and Torr tallied a 12-point, 5-rebound, 4-assist performance. Also for 1st-year Lady Tigers’ taskmaster Maria Joseph, Lexi Dabney dished out a game-high 7 assists, and she and Janayia Chester evenly divided 14 additional points for Sharon (14-8).
For Farrell (11-11), Whitney Murray mustered 11 points and snared 7 caroms despite playing on a gimpy knee, and Mykayla Washington went for a team-high 15 points — highlighted by 11-for-15 free-throw marksmanship — and hauled down a handful of caroms. Also, Johntae Scott facilitated 6 scores for Lady Steelers’ skipper Eddie Turosky.
The backyard rivalry was a D-10 inter-region affair.
˝ On Thursday, Sharon girls finished 9-3 in Region 2-AA with a 60-45 win over West Middlesex (4-8, 9-13) at Tiger Gymnasium.
Mal Torr fired in a career-high 22 points for the Lady Tigers, Sanders scored 15 and Maggie Torr added 10 markers.
Alexis Summers scored 21 for WM and Morgan Atterholt bucketed 19.
The box was published in Friday’s edition of The Herald.
ä Sharpsville 63, Reynolds 28 — At Transfer, the Blue Darlings of coach Jeff Hanley closed out the regular season with the romp over Raiders.
“We’re pleased with the season,” said Hanley. “Now we’ll wait to see who we play and get ready for the playoffs.
The Region 2-AA champs finished the year at 15-7, while Reynolds fell to 7-15 in the non-region loss.
McKenzie Popatak hit for 19 points, while Megan Davis added 16. Davis had 7 assists, while Paige Scurpa pulled down 5 rebounds.
Slippery Rock Boys 93, Hickory 51
Slippery Rock Girls 94, Hickory 72
ä 200 Medley Relay—Veronica Stefanick, Delaney Javens, Paige Brown, Jordan Graves, 2nd; Kevin Hartenstein, Ryan Elsey, Jaylan Sharper, 1st.
ä 200 Freestyle—Breah Quatkemeyer, 2nd; Trand Wright, 2nd.
ä 50 Freestyle—Jordan Graves, 1st; Elsey, 2nd.
ä 100 Butterfly—Javens, 1st.
ä 100 Freestyle—Graves, 2nd; Wright, 1st.
ä 200 Free-Relay—Quatkemeyer, Javens, Graves, Bailey Brown, 1st; Hartenstein, Vinnie Currie, Sharper, Elsey, 2nd.
ä 100 Backstroke—Javens, 2nd.
ä 100 Breaststroke—P.Brown, 2nd; Sharper, 2nd.
ä 400 Free-Relay—Chelsea Panin, Annalise Bianco, Quatkemeyer, B.Brown, 2nd; Kyle Hartenstein, Elsey, Kevin Hartenstein, Wright, 2nd.
... And a child shall lead them.
Hickory track coaches near finish line
While the Shenango Valley lionizes legendary gridiron greats and hardwood heroes, the sport of track & field at Hickory High has resonated its relevance throughout District 10 and commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
For the better part of the last 3 decades that was due, to a great extent, to the efforts of Barb Dzuricsko and Mark Slezak.
More than 200 dual-meet victories combined between the girls’ and boys’ programs, 9 district championships (7 girls, 2 boys), 2 statewide runners-up berths and another pair of 3rd-place finishes, culminating in the Lady Hornets’ 2012 PIAA Class AA championship.
Their collective resumé would be envied by any coach, regardless of sport. Which makes this recent revelation regrettable: Dzuricsko and Slezak simultaneously will step down at this season’s conclusion.
SPORTVIEW: Cavaliers are example of how an owner impacts a team
WHEN LEBRON James vacated Cleveland for South Beach a few years ago, angry Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert declared that the Cavaliers would win an NBA championship before James and the Miami Heat.
How’s that working out, Dan?
Miami is seeking a third straight title this postseason while the Cavaliers are headed for the golf courses. Pretty sad.
Roundup: Trojans, Hounds win team titles at WM Invitational
Wilmington High girls and Greenville boys dominated the annual Big Red Track & Field Invitational Thursday afternoon in West Middlesex.
A half-dozen girls’ and 7 boys’ teams competed.
Wilmington overwhelmed the female field, as the Lady Greyhounds garnered almost twice as many points as runner-up Lakeview (236-5 to 133.5).
Roundup: WM diamondmen edge Reynolds, 6-4
ä West Middlesex 6, Reynolds 4 — At Transfer, the Big Reds snapped a 4-all tie by plating a run in the 4th inning and another in the 7th in a 2-run win over the Raiders.
Mark Colella earned the mound win in a relief appearance for WM. No pitching stats were submitted.
Roundup: Hickory, Wilmington softball teams win
Paced by Chelsea Marriott’s muscle, Hickory High hammered 4 home runs Saturday afternoon en route to a 19-1 rout of Sharon.
At Wengler, Marriott mauled 2- and 3-run round-trippers to right-center and straightaway center field, respectively. Her Lady Hornets’ teammates Hannah Gallagher and Morgan McBride mustered 3-run bombs, also.
Fired coach in Mankato unjustly accused of visiting porn sites
Minnesota State University-Mankato officials wrongly accused former football coach Todd Hoffner of viewing pornography sites on his work computer before firing him last May, a state arbitrator has disclosed.
Roundup: Hickory track coaches to step down following season
Hickory High track & field co-head coaches Barb Dzuricsko and Mark Slezak announced they will step down at the season’s conclusion.
Dzuricsko and Slezak, who led the Lady Hornets to the 2012 PIAA Class AA crown, jointly made the announcement via e-mail late Wednesday.
Roundup: Devil diamondmen roll past Sharon
An old-school baseball bromide states that, early in any season, pitching is always ahead of hitting. However Sharpsville shunned that axiom Wednesday afternoon.
The Blue Devils banged 15 hits, and Sharpsville short-circuited Sharon, 16-4, in 5 innings.
Roundup: Hounds, Hornets notch track sweeps
ä Wilmington 116, Reynolds 44 — At New Wilmington, the host Lady Hounds were led by Rikki Brumbaugh (4x8, 4x4 relay legs, 400- and 800-meter runs); Hannah Drake (long, triple jumps, 4x4 relay); Allison Baldwin (4x8 and 4x4 relay legs); Lexi Brumbaugh (1600-, 3200-meter runs, distance-relay leg), and Tessa Sikora (high jump, 200-meter dash, sprint-relay anchor).
SPORTVIEW: Pirates, Indians fans looking for big things this year
LIFE IS GOOD if you are a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates or Cleveland Indians. At least for now!
Heading into Saturday, both teams were 3-1 and looking pretty sharp. Since both made the playoffs last year, there are high expectations for both clubs. But in baseball, every year is a new season and there are no guarantees.
Still, it’s always nice when your favorite teams get off to a good start. In too many seasons, Pittsburgh and Cleveland fans were only talking about the NFL draft because hopes were bleak for their baseball teams.
Hickory's Arbanas 1st team All-State; KC's Hood 3rd team
ALTOONA, Pa. (AP) — Teams from the WPIAL won three of the four PIAA girls basketball championships this year, and southwestern Pennsylvania is turning out to be just as dominant when it comes to postseason honors.
Pittsburgh-area programs produced seven of the eight major award winners on this season’s Sports Writers Pennsylvania High School Girls Basketball All-State Team, including all four players of the year.
WM's Staunch named 2nd team All-State
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Finishing on the winning side in a championship game — or coming mighty, mighty close — scored plenty of points with the panel that selected Pennsylvania’s all-state boys’ basketball team.
Especially when it came time to choose those — whether players or coaches — who claimed the top individual awards.
Roundup: Hickory, Mercer, Reynolds, WM baseball teams earn wins
ä Hickory 12, Sharpsville 10 — At the McCullough Run Complex in South Pymatuning Twp., the visiting Hornets improved to 4-0 with the win.
Brady Leunis went 2-for-3 for Hickory with a double and 3 RBI, Tommy Cannon belted a 2-run homer, Noah Orndorff was 2-for-4, Nate Mastrian ripped an RBI-double, Ethan Davis was 2-for-4 with a double and a run driven in and Jake Andrzjewski doubled.
Roundup: WM, Wilmington, Mercer softball teams win
ä West Middlesex 11, Grove City 1 (5 inn.) — At the Richard J. Kritz Softball Complex in West Middlesex, Jordyn Allen fired a complete-game 2-hitter with 8 strikeouts and no walks as the Ms. Reds (1-1) rebounded from a tough loss to Lakeview on Monday.
Offensively, Allen doubled and ripped 2 singles for WM, Abby McAdams and Aly Andrusky doubled and singled, Macy Siefert collected 4 singles and Hannah Havens, Megan Hazlett and Oivia Slater added 2 singles each.
Hickory girls, Farrell boys win Guerino titles
The Hickory girls and Farrell boys captured championships on Saturday night at the 17th annual Buddy Guerino Underclassmen Basketball Tournament at Sharpsville High School.
The Hickory girls beat Kennedy Catholic, 41-29, for the crown while the Farrell boys topped Mercer, 76-35, for the title.
In the consolation games, Sharpsville defeated Sharon, 35-15, in girls hoops while the Sharon boys beat Hickory, 57-33.
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- Hickory track coaches near finish line