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Johnsonburg snaps Sheffield’s 3-game winning streak

Sheffield’s Jake Vinopal pulls up for a jumper over Johnsonburg’s Cameron Stelene during the first half of their AML battle at Ralph J. Santo Gymnasium on Monday. Vinopal scored 11 points for the Wolverines.

The Sheffield Wolverines came into Monday’s matchup with Johnsonburg riding a 3-game winning streak.

The Rams’ hot-shooting ended that however, as they went on a 21-4 third-quarter run en route to a 77-49 win at Ralph J. Santo Gymnasium.

“They’re a really good team and we knew that,” said Sheffield coach Mike Knapp. “It’s the best team we’ve played in a while. And you don’t see that stuff every day, some of the stuff that they do. You can’t simulate some of these teams in practice.”

The Rams, who have spent time in the Top 10 in the Pennsylvania state rankings this season in Class A, along with Elk County Catholic and Ridgway, help make up what is a formidable and unforgiving AML.

That being said, the Wolverines have been playing much better and hung right with them early on.

Sheffield’s Walker Kyler dribbles between a pair of Johnsonburg defenders.

Tony Richards buried a pair of deep first-quarter 3’s and scored all eight of his points in the first, while Tyler Hepinger scored 7 first-quarter points as the Wolverines (4-11) trailed by just 1, 18-17, after the first.

“Execution is the key and we were able to do that in the first half,” Knapp said. “Good teams make adjustments, and when they start taking something away, we have to see that second option.”

Hepinger remained hot in the second quarter, but so did Johnsonburg’s Austin Green.

The 1,000-point scorer for the Rams (10-5) scored 10 of his game-high 23 points in the second. The lead swelled to eight, 25-17, after a Green triple, but buckets by Luke McNeal and Caden Copley got Sheffield back within three.

Green, however, sent the Rams into the locker room on a high note, scoring five points in the final minute to make it 40-31 at the break.

“For a while, we did a pretty good job executing,” Knapp said. “But they make the extra pass and you have to be on point with your positioning and your hustle. We just weren’t always there where we should be.”

That was especially true in the third quarter, as the Rams scored first 11 points of the second half, with Jake Vinopal finally breaking the ice with a mid-range jumper.

By that time, however, the lead had swelled to 20.

“In the second half there was a little bit of let down by some guys, and we can’t have that if we want to compete against these teams,” Knapp said. “But we’ll get back to work tomorrow.”

For Johnsonburg, Cameron Stelene complemented Green with 17 points, 14 of which came in the second half.

Hepinger, who was coming off a career-high 38 in a win against DuBois Central Catholic on Friday, finished with a team-high 19, while Vinopal chipped in with 11.

The Wolverines will look to get back to their winning ways on Friday when they travel to Kane.

“I think they’re starting to believe,” Knapp said. “When you win games, that brings more attention. Teams are going to focus more on taking things away and we have to be ready for that.”

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JOHNSONBURG (77)

Ga. Gregori 3-2-3-8, Zilkofski 1-2-2-4, Gi. Gregori 3-0-0-6, Green 10-0-0-23, Watts 6-1-2-13, Christoff 0-0-0-0, Stelene 7-3-4-17, Douglas 3-0-0-6, Totals 33-8-11-77

SHEFFIELD (49)

Kyler 2-0-0-4, Richards 3-0-0-8, Hepinger 7-2-3-19, M. McNeal 0-0-0-0, L. McNeal 1-0-0-2, Vinopal 5-1-1-11, Johnson 1-0-0-3, Benjamin 0-0-0-0, Copley 1-0-0-2, Silvis 0-0-0-0, Matt-Maclush 0-0-0-0, Finch 0-0-0-0, Totals 20-3-4-49

By Quarters

Johnsonburg 18 22 21 16 – 77

Sheffield 17 14 4 14 – 49

Three-point FGs: Johnsonburg (3) – Green 3; Sheffield (6) – Hepinger 3, Richards 2, Johnson

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