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Mercer pulls out win over Shenango

Jan. 15—The Shenango High boys basketball team couldn't cap off the Ron Galbreath Classic with a win on Sunday.

Mercer created chaos in the fourth quarter to close in, tie the game and seal a 60-57 win over the Wildcats in the nonsection clash at Westminster College.

"It's a very good win. Shenango's a good basketball team. I've known Coach (Bob) McQuiston for a long time and we knew coming in that his son was going to be just a load for us and he was," Mercer coach Joe Venasco said. "We made a lot of mistakes early. It seemed like it took us a lot to get going. We usually try to play the style that you saw in the fourth quarter. Shenango did a really good job. Early in the game, their guards handled the ball. I thought, at the end of the day, we wore them down."

After Mercer's Braden Balaski hit two freebies to take the three-point lead, Shenango got the ball across half court to call a timeout with 2.9 seconds remaining in the game. Brody McQuiston got the ball but couldn't sink the 3-pointer that would have forced overtime.

"It's a tough one to swallow. It's a game we should've won," Shenango coach Bob McQuiston said of the loss. "We had opportunities. You're up 12 with four or five minutes to go and then we turned it over however many times. That's been our Achilles' heel in the last four games. We can't handle pressure right now for some reason. It's not like we're not going over it every day at practice. As coaches, we have to go back and look and see what we need to do."

Brody McQuiston led Shenango (9-4 overall) with 28 points.

Shenango took an early lead and entered the second quarter with a 14-9 advantage. Mercer (9-3) tried closing in second, but back-to-back 3-pointers from Joe Campoli and Jimmy Roe at the end of the first half gave Shenango a five-point lead at halftime.

Chaos ensued in the second half with a slew of miscued passes allowing Mercer to make an abundance of steals.

"I don't think we're making ball fakes. I don't think we're looking passes away. We're staring down our passes," Coach McQuiston said. "That's what they talk about with quarterbacks. When they're staring down their receiver, that's when the defensive back jumps him. That's what happened to us."

Said Venasco of the chaotic second half, "It's kind of what we do. We pressure the ball. I didn't think we were real aggressive in the first half. In the third quarter, I think Dae Mattocks, Bubba Palmer and Balaski really got going. Cole Cunningham really keyed that too. His role was taking the middle away from the floor which was mostly McQuiston in the middle. It allowed our guards to put some pressure on their guards and we turned them over some."

Mercer's Dae Mattocks posted a game-high 28 points.

The Wildcats host Aliquippa at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.