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Mohawk boys fall to Girard in PIAA Class 3A playoffs

Mar. 18—SLIPPERY ROCK — The Mohawk High boys basketball team's dream season came to an end Saturday afternoon.

The Warriors, bidding to reach the PIAA Class 3A Final Four, couldn't keep up with Girard, dropping a 70-50 quarterfinal-round matchup at Slippery Rock.

"I give a lot of credit to Girard. They were the better team Saturday," Mohawk coach Mike O'Lare said. "They were just relentless defensively.

"They caused us problems most of the night; they're a good basketball team."

Mohawk, which won its first state playoff game since 1970 earlier in the state playoffs, bows out at 20-9. The Warriors were playing in the state quarterfinals for just the second time in their history (1970). They opened the PIAA playoffs with a 56-42 victory over Moniteau and backed that up with a 55-50 verdict over Ellwood City Lincoln before running into the Yellow Jackets.

"After the game, I told the kids that it's hard to understand history in the moment," O'Lare said. "When you're older and you look back on these days, you'll truly appreciate what we accomplished."

Girard (26-2) advances to meet Franklin at 7 p.m. Tuesday at PennWest Edinboro University. The Yellow Jackets defeated the Knights (23-5) in the District 10 championship game, 60-50, ending Franklin's three-year run as D-10 champs.

It's the first trip to the state semifinals since 1990 for Girard.

"We really haven't seen that style of play defensively from anyone all season. Maybe Deer Lakes back in December," O'Lare said. "It's hard to simulate it. It just wore us down. We hung around for a while."

Franklin reached the Final Four with an 83-66 decision over WPIAL champ Deer Lakes.

Mohawk trailed 16-12 after one quarter and 37-29 at the half. Girard pushed the lead to 58-44 going to the final frame.

Eighteen of the Warriors' first 20 points were from behind the arc. The Yellow Jackets put the game away early in the fourth quarter, opening the quarter on a 12-2 run.

"A lot of that was when we did break their pressure," O'Lare said of the early 3s. "Most of those 3s came in transition.

"A lot of that in the fourth-quarter run came from us. We were just forcing shots. They were quick shots that didn't go in and that led to some transition runouts."

Freshman Drew Wrona led the Warriors with a career-high 15 points. Bobby Fadden, who came in averaging 21.6 points a game, was limited to just eight tallies. Keigan Hopper tossed in nine markers.

"Drew can really handle the ball and he can shoot," O'Lare said. "He's one of our main guys coming off the bench.

"The future is really bright for him. He has a lot of work to do and he'll do it."

Jay Wrona, averaging 12.4 markers, was held to five.

"Everybody scouts. When you get that film, they know quickly who they have to take away," O'Lare said. "Girard did a nice job of putting two and sometimes three guys in front of him.

"They were really trying to take Jay and Bobby away and they did a good job of that."

Geremia Dell'omo delivered 21 points for Girard.

Mohawk will lose six players — Justin Boson, Keigan Hopper, Mason Hopper, JJ Nail, Dante Retort and Jay Wrona — to graduation.

"When I started three years ago with the Mohawk boys, they were all there," O'Lare said of the departing group. "They really are better people than they are players.

"Getting to spend time with them over the years, they are committed to not only basketball, but to Mohawk."

rponiewasz@ncnewsonline.com