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Mohawk wins home-opener; starts 2-0

6 November 2011 No Comment

Rachelle Abella led her team in points (26), assists (5), and steals (5) in Mohawk’s home-opening win over St. Clair.//Photo by Dave Watson

Starting point guards are usually taught to go into a game with a pass first shoot second mentality. Meant to be the facilitators for their team, point guards are left to curb their desire to score, and rather setup teammates to take care of the points.

The situation for Mohawk is a little different, however. Starting point guard for the Mountaineers, Rachelle Abella, is forced to start each game with a different mindset than most typical point guards.

“I have a role on the team,” said Abella. “I’m a captain so I have to just step up and lead the team. They count on me.”

Abella’s role, along with her all around talent for the game, is quite clear in her play. Any time her team is in a scoring drought, Abella amps up the aggression and makes a strong move to the basket, as she did to open the game in Mohawk’s 73-69 win over St. Clair in their home-opener on Nov. 4. Abella drove the lane in the starting minutes of the game and opened the scoring with a three-point-play. Not wandering from her role as a passer, Abella then stole the ensuing inbounds pass and setup Cynthia Mosca for a layup. The second-year point guard went on to lead her team in points (26), assists (5), and steals (5).

The Mountaineers have now started the season 2-0, one more win than all of last season. Head coach Kevin Duffy said a big reason for the improvement is not being forced to rely on just one or two players.

“We have lots of depth,” said Duffy. “So, you know, we’re lucky that we have that. When people get injured, we have other people that can step up for us.”

Duffy was forced to make use of his bench. By the end of the game, Mohawk had three players leave with injuries. The most serious looking of the three was a scary collision involving Sylvia Mosca and one of her own players. Mosca has hit in the head and went to the floor, eventually being taken away by paramedics on a stretcher. Not even two minutes later Mosca’s sister Cynthia rolled her ankle and was forced from the game. Daniella Randazzo also sat for most of the game with an ankle injury.

Although Mohawk held the lead for most of the game, the four-point win made the game seem like a much closer contest. Three-point shooting and free throws were keeping St. Clair in the game that Mohawk led almost start to finish. The Saints’ Kelly Rizea drained three-pointers to end the first and second quarter and if St. Clair was able to make a few more of their 26 awarded foul shots, the game could have had a different outcome.

“They got to loose balls which led to more fouls and more points against us but overall we did a good a job containing them,” said Abella.

Trying to contain the outside shooters, Mohawk decided to employ a full-court press to start the fourth quarter. The lack of defenders around the basket allowed St. Clair some easy points in the post and the press was quickly abandoned.

Good defence and aggression by Mohawk helped preserve their lead to end the game. The Mountaineers forced the Saints to commit to late turnovers and Abella and Marina Ciannavei made a free throw each to put the game away.

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