SLIPPERY ROCK — Sometimes the matchups are just not in your favor. That’s what the Maplewood Tigers experienced on Friday night at Slippery Rock University’s Morrow Field House when the Farrell Steelers handed them a season-ending 77-36 loss in the District 10 Class 2A Quarterfinals.
Maplewood (11-13) didn’t have the means to keep up with the high-tempo game that Farrell (19-3) has routinely put its opponents through during the season. After Steelers junior Eric Hopson scored the first two buckets of the evening, the Tigers were unable to rally back and grab a single lead throughout the contest.
The Steelers had four players in double-figures with Hopson leading the pack with his 21 points. University of Pittsburgh football recruit Kyi Wright had 15 points, while Ben King and Reyonte Hammonds chipped in 12 and 11, respectively.
Maplewood senior Camden Mattocks and junior Clay Cox finished the game with nine points each to pace the club. Seniors Jordan Hollabaugh and Hunter Groger added six and two points, respectively, in their final high school games.
The 3-point shot was a big weapon in the first half for the Steelers as King made four shots from behind the arc and Hammonds added two more to help put the game out of reach at the intermission, 41-16.
Farrell also gave Maplewood more than they could handle in the paint with Hopson and Wright. Due in part to dominating the glass on potential rebounds, Hopson sunk five shots from short range in both the first and third frames, while Wright added six more buckets in the middle two periods.
“They’re long, quick and pretty fundamental,” Maplewood coach Shawn Rhoades said of the Steelers. “When you can cover that much territory, it makes it tough. We never played against anybody like that this season. [Hopson and Wright] are big and strong. The team is well-coached and they get after it.”
Although the Tigers ended one round of short of guaranteeing a spot in the PIAA Tournament, Maplewood accomplished a lot for having a relatively inexperienced group of players. The club won 11 games and got its first playoff win in Rhoades’ tenure. Overall, Rhoades said he was happy with how is first season went at the helm.
“As an inexperienced team, we had our ups and downs, but, overall, I’m happy with how we did,” Rhoades said. “We got our first playoff win [in my tenure] and it’s a good group of kids [to coach]. I’m looking forward to starting back up again.”
Looking ahead to next season, the Tigers will have to replace Mattocks and Hollabaugh in the post. Also, Groger’s energy and 3-point shooting from the guard position will also be missed.
“[Cam] definitely leaves big shoes to fill,” Rhoades said. “He works 100 percent of the time. It’s tough to replace that on top of being coachable and a leader by example. The same with Jordan and Hunter; they both played hard. I wish them the best wherever they go. We just have to keep rebuilding and reloading.”