Mohawk doesn’t possess much height, so the Warriors focused on possessing the ball Wednesday when taking on standout 6-foot-5 forward Joseph Roth and Ellwood City for the third time this season.

“I felt like if we kept the ball on our side of the floor, then Joe Roth could not score, and that’s what we kept talking about the last couple days of practice,” Mohawk coach Mike O’Lare said. “He had 51 [points] on us last time. I know it sounds absurd, but if we kept him under 30, I thought we had a chance.”

Mohawk did hold Roth under 30 … barely. Roth scored 29 points, but Mohawk got 28 points from star sophomore Bobby Fadden and finished strong to claim a 55-50 win against section-rival Ellwood City in a PIAA Class 3A second-round game in front of a packed house at New Castle.

In what was the “Battle of Lawrence County,” Mohawk (19-8) earned its second-ever trip to the PIAA quarterfinals and its first since reaching the final in 1970 by defeating Ellwood City (18-10) for the third time this season. Mohawk topped the Wolverines by scores of 77-64 and 82-77 in the regular season.

“It’s hard to beat a team three times in a season, and what we just did was really big for the program,” said Fadden, who pumped in 29 and 34 in the first two matchups.

Following a slow-moving first half that saw Ellwood City take a 20-15 halftime lead, the pace picked up in the second half as the Wolverines’ lead grew to eight points. But Mohawk cut its deficit to 39-38 after three quarters before going up four points early in the fourth quarter. 

Roth, whose 51 points in the previous meeting was a school record, scored on a putback to pull Ellwood City even with Mohawk, 45-45, with 4:45 left to play. Fadden then twice went 2 of 2 from the free-throw line to give Mohawk a 49-45 advantage midway through the quarter. The Mohawk lead stood at 51-50 before senior Keigan Hopper went 1 of 2 from the charity stripe to increase the advantage to two with 21 seconds left. After Roth missed a potential game-tying shot, Hopper was fouled and this time made both free-throw attempts to extend his team’s lead to 54-50 with 13 seconds left. Jay Wrona added a late throw in the final seconds.

Roth had just two field goals and seven points in the fourth quarter after scoring 12 points in the third. Roth also had 17 rebounds and finished his high school career with a school-record 2,109 career points and 1,198 rebounds. He will compete in the PIAA Class 2A swimming championships Friday and Saturday at Bucknell University.

“In the fourth quarter we had to do a good job of stopping Roth,” said Fadden, who at 6-1 is Mohawk’s tallest starter. “They were trying to do block to block action, trying to get him the ball down low. And we did a really good job bodying him up and getting a lot of good rebounds.”

Fadden was very good himself. After being shut out in the first quarter, Fadden scored Mohawk’s first six points of the second quarter. He tallied nine overall in the second quarter before scoring 11 in the third and eight in the fourth.

“I feel like he wasn’t attacking the rim,” O’Lare said of Fadden being limited early on. “He was seeing Roth in there and he was taking some off-balance jumpers. And again, he’s in 10th grade. So, the kid’s a young dude on a big stage trying to help carry our team at times, and he has to do that. And I felt in the second half he was getting to the basket. He was being patient with his moves at the rim. He wasn’t just shooting it and getting blocked.”

Ellwood City’s Joseph Roth finished with 29 points and 17 rebounds in his final high school game Wednesday, a 55-50 loss to Mohawk in a PIAA Class 3A second-round contest at New Castle. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Wrona added nine points for Mohawk and Hopper tacked on seven. Outside of Fadden and Roth, the only other player to score in double-digits in the game was Ellwood City’s Colten Crizer, who finished with 10 points.

It will be the third time in the quarterfinals for O’Lare, who guided the Mohawk girls to the Class 3A quarterfinals in 2020 and to the title game a season later. He coached the girls for 15 seasons before taking the boys job in 2021.

After eliminating one of its rivals in the second round, Mohawk will turn its attention to District 10 champion Girard (25-2), which it will face in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

“To make it to the state quarterfinals is big, especially the second time in school history,” Fadden said. “It’s fun. Winning is fun.”

Other Class 3A

• Billy Schaeffer scored a game-high 22 points and reached 1,000 career points while helping WPIAL champion Deer Lakes (23-4) eliminate District 6 runner-up Forest Hills (21-5) at Armstrong. Nate Moore chipped in 17 points and Wayne Love 15 for Deer Lakes, last year’s runner-up which advanced to the quarterfinals for the third time. Deer Lakes led, 27-17, at the half and maintained that 10-point lead going into the final quarter. Forest Hills, which has never reached the quarterfinals, was led by Brandon Gregovich’s 17 points. Deer Lakes will take on District 10 runner-up Franklin (22-5) in the quarterfinals.

Class 6A

• After losing to State College by 30 points in the last year’s first round, WPIAL champion Upper St. Clair (22-5) flipped the script by rolling to a 63-43 win against the District 6 champion Little Lions (13-13) at Pitt-Johnstown. Tyler Robbins scored a team-best 15 points for Upper St. Clair, which has won nine straight. The Panthers held a 36-20 lead at the half before coasting into the quarterfinals for the third time. They reached the semifinals in 2001. Nate Price scored 16 points for State College, which eliminated WPIAL champion Central Catholic on its way to reaching last year’s quarterfinals. Upper St. Clair will meet District 3 fifth-place finisher Central York (23-3) in the quarterfinals.

Fort Cherry’s Blake Sweder scored a team-high 21 points Wednesday to propel Fort Cherry into the PIAA quarterfinals for the first time since 1961 following an 88-71 win against Serra Catholic in a Class 2A second-round game at Peters Township. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Class 2A

• In the stunner of the night, Jeannette (18-8), the WPIAL’s sixth-place qualifier, edged arch-rival and WPIAL runner-up Greensburg Central Catholic (24-4), 48-46, in overtime at Norwin. Greensburg C.C. had beaten Jeannette by 27 and 22 points in the regular season and had won the last seven meetings overall. The teams were tied, 39-39, at the end of regulation before Jeannette outscored Greensburg C.C., 9-7, in overtime to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2018. With the score tied at 44, Isaiah Mallich made a 3-pointer to put Jeannette ahead for good in the final minute of overtime. Markus McGowan’s 13 points led Jeannette, while Tyree Turner paced Greensburg C.C. with 21 points.

• WPIAL third-place finisher Fort Cherry (22-6) ran into the quarterfinals for the first time since 1961 after defeating WPIAL seventh-place qualifier Serra Catholic (18-10), 88-71, at Peters Township. Blake Sweder scored 21 points to lead Fort Cherry, which also got 20 from Derek Errett and 19 from Shane Cornali. Fort Cherry ended the first quarter on a 13-0 run to take an eight-point lead and extended that advantage to 42-28 at the half. Pete Burke led Serra with 26 points, Isiah Petty had 23 and Owen Dumbroski 19. Fort Cherry’s only other quarterfinal appearance came in 1961 when it won the Class B title. The late Marty Schottenheimer was a senior center for the Rangers that season. The Rangers will play Jeannette next.

• Josh Pratt scored a game-high 23 points and WPIAL champion Aliquippa (23-5) moved closer to a third consecutive trip to the final after hammering District 10 third-place finisher Eisenhower (21-6), 79-47, at Edinboro University. Aliquippa outscored Eisenhower, 28-4, in the second quarter to go up, 41-14, at the half. Qa’lil Goode chipped in 16 points for Aliquippa, which has won 13 of its past 14 games and has won each of its six postseason games by double-digits. Kyler Black scored 15 points to lead Eisenhower. The Knights were coming off their first PIAA win in school history. Aliquippa will face District 9 champion Redbank Valley (24-3) in the quarterfinals.


Class 6A

Upper St. Clair 63, State College 43

Class 3A

Deer Lakes 67, Forest Hills 51

Mohawk 55, Ellwood City 50

Class 2A

Aliquippa 79, Eisenhower 47

Fort Cherry 88, Serra Catholic 71

Jeannette 48, Greensburg C.C. 46

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Brad Everett

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at