... 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.
GC coach Bell retired — sort of!
You can take the man out of coaching, but you can’t take coaching out of the man.
Former Grove City High football coach Jeff Bell has spent his first few months of retirement hearing the ping of a baseball ricocheting off an aluminum bat instead of clap of shoulder pads coming together.
“My grandson Maddox (Bell) and a few of his friends play on a traveling team, so I’m helping out with that,” said Bell, who retired as the Eagles’ football coach this past winter. “They’re a good group of kids to work with and this is a lot more enjoyable. It’s a lot less stress.
SPORTVIEW: Johnny Football claims he has learned from his 'rookie mistakes'
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Johnny Football admitted this past week that he made some rookie mistakes. Really?
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NFL NOTEBOOK: Ex-Sharon star Austin hopes to spark Lions' defense
THE TALENTED — albeit underachieving — Detroit Lions commence camp July 27 in Allen Park, Mich. as the National Football League prepares for the 2014 season.
Racing to fight cancer
Former Hickory High athlete Amanda Budzowski is on the run — the run to raise money to fight cancer.
Budzowski is part of Team in Training, an organization that has raised more than $1.4 billion for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society since forming in 1988. Her division is known as IRONTEAM and she is currently training for the 140.6-mile Ironman triathlon in Mont Tremblant, Canada, in August.
SPORTVIEW: Pirates, Indians need fast start after All-Star break
SO FAR, so good. I’m referring to the start of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians after the All-Star break on Friday night.
Both teams rallied to win. The Buccos beat the Colorado Joints — err, I mean Rockies — by coming from behind in the 8th inning. Since they legalized marijuana sales in that state, it gave new meaning to John Denver’s song “Rocky Mountain High.”
Rutters earn spot in national motocross event
The brother-sister racing duo of Elijah and Dannah Rutter of Mercer are set to travel to Hurricane Mills, Tenn., to compete soon in the prestigious 33rd annual Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships presented by AMSOIL at Loretta Lynn Ranch.
Elijah, 18, and Dannah, 16, earned a ticket to the event with their performances at qualifiers and then regionals and are among the top 5 percent of riders in the U.S. Overall, 20,000 hopefuls from across the U.S. competed and there are only 1,446 qualifying spots at nationals.
Notebook: Sharon football greats meet, reunite at inaugural golf scramble
Mid-July, with the temperature 80-plus degrees at Avalon at Buhl Country Club; however, it felt like a fall, football Friday.
The inaugural Sharon Football Boosters 4-man golf scramble took place recently, and served as a Who’s Who in the Tigers’ triumphant tradition.
SPORTVIEW: All is right with the world - LeBron has come home!
HAPPY DAYS are here again. The prodigal child has returned!
The announcement that “King James” is returning to Cleveland has created a level of euphoria not seen since the Browns won the city’s last major sport championship a couple of years ago.
What’s that? Oh, yeah — make that 50 years ago (1964).
Full text of LeBron's essay in SI
LeBron James announced his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday in an essay that he wrote for Sports Illustrated. The following is the full text of that essay.
Snyder, Gordon, Popatak named to All-State team
Grove City High’s David Gordon, Sharpsville’s Greg Popatak and Lakeview’s Logan Snyder recently were named to the Pennsylvania High School Baseball Coaches Association all-state team.
Synder was selected 1st-Team in Class A as a designated-hitter, while Gordon was honorably-mentioned in Class AAA and Popatak similarly was honored in AA. Gordon gained his laurels as a pitcher; Popatak as a 3rd baseman.
Oprah lands first interview with Jerry Sandusky's adopted son, Matthew
Matthew Sandusky, the adopted son of former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, is breaking his silence for the first time since his father's 2012 conviction on 45 counts of child sexual abuse, sitting down with Oprah to tell his story.
Little League Tournaments
Sharon won the District 2 Major Division (12-year-olds) Championship, while Greenville 9-10 and West Middlesex 11 teams notched tournament victories in recent action.
Hermitage Brennan Chiropractic won the Mercer County 14-under championship recently.
Following are game reports:
The First Tee of Sharon celebrates 15th anniversary
Professional golf star John Cook has received many honors and awards in his illustrious career, but probably none mean as much as those similar to the one he received Monday afternoon at The First Tee of Sharon.
During a special ceremony to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the local program, a permanent plaque was unveiled in his honor describing the contributions he has made to junior golf.
SPORTVIEW: John Cook here Monday for First Tee; other celebs on July 11
THE RETURN of Tiger Woods to a PGA event sparked a lot of interest this past week. The return of John Cook to Buhl Farm Golf Course Monday will do the same locally.
Cook, a standout on the Champions Tour and outstanding TV golf analyst, will conduct a clinic at 11 a.m. Monday at the course to help celebrate the 15th anniversary of The First Tee of Sharon program.
It is open to the public at no charge.
Hickory honors Tri-Athletes
Hickory High honored its 2013-14 tri-athletes in a recent ceremony, the latest installment in a program that began in 2003-04.
Fifty student-athletes (grades 9-12) were cited for having competed in at least one sport in the fall, winter and spring while maintaining a minimum B (85 percent) grade-point-average during the first three 9-week grading periods of the academic year.
- More Sports Headlines
- GC coach Bell retired — sort of!