Thomas unstoppable in Union victory
Union (77) Vs. Neshannock (76)
Anthony Thomas could not be stopped Saturday night.

Actually, the Neshannock High boys basketball team struggled to contain him.

The Union senior tallied a game-high 47 points to lead the Scotties to a thrilling 77-76 overtime win over the Lancers in the Neshannock Early Bird Tournament championship game.

Neshannock (1-1) held a 21-10 lead after the first, but Union (2-0) trimmed the deficit to 36-30 at halftime. The Scotties posted a 47-43 advantage after three quarters before the Lancers regained the lead. Union’s Andre Jones sent the game into overtime when he split a pair of free throws with one-tenth of a second left in regulation.

In the extra frame, Thomas continued his scoring onslaught, but fouled out with 32 seconds to play. The guests, who had five players foul out in the contest, clung to a one-point lead as Neshannock missed a potential game-winning shot at the buzzer.

“It was pretty wild,” Union coach Dave Smialowski said. “It was a hard-fought game by two good teams. It was a lot of fun.”

Thomas, who tallied 26 points in Friday’s 65-60 triumph over West Middlesex, earned tournament MVP honors.

“Anthony Thomas played a wonderful game. He controlled the game for us,” Smialowski said. “He did a really nice job.”

Anthony Forletta and Devonta Thomas, Anthony’s brother, both had eight points. Jones, who finished with three points, earned all-tournament team honors.

John Sansone led Neshannock with 18 points and six rebounds. Joey Fontana had 16 points and six rebounds, while Bobby Nittinger had 14 points and Brandon Marinelli added 12. Eric Bruening finished with three points and 16 rebounds. Fontana and Nittinger were named to the all-tournament squad.

“It was definitely a good game. The performance Anthony Thomas gave was impressive,” Neshannock coach John Corey said. “We tried different things defensively and it seemed like we couldn’t get in the spots to do what we wanted. We had a defensive game plan to do some things to get the ball out of his hand, but his point total and performance speaks for itself. We still had our shots to win.”

The two squads are expected to be the top contenders for WPIAL Section 1-A championship, but won’t meet again until next month.

“The next two times we play, it’ll probably be the same way,” Smialowski said. “We’re two pretty even teams and we play well against each other. There are a lot of games in between when we play them again, but we consider them our biggest rival, no doubt.”

Game Scoreboard
Union 10 20 17 19 11 77
Neshannock 21 15 7 23 10 76
Box Scores
UNION (77)
Anthony Thomas 16 12-17 47
Damian Trott 1 2-2 5
Devonta Thomas 3 1-2 8
Anthony Forletta 4 0-3 8
Andre Jones 0 3-6 3
Nate Majors 2 0-2 4
Ronnell Hunt 1 0-0 2
John DeCesare 0 0-0 0
Greg Respress 0 0-0 0
John Riggans 0 0-0 0.
Totals: 27 18-32 77.

Bobby Nittinger 3 7-8 14
Joey Fontana 5 6-7 16
C.J. VanEman 5 2-4 13
John Sansone 4 7-11 18
Eric Bruening 1 1-4 3
Brandon Marinelli 3 6-9 12.
Totals: 21 29-43 76.

UNION 10 20 17 19 11 — 77
NESHANNOCK 21 15 7 23 10 — 76
3-point goals — Union 5 (A. Thomas 3, Trott 1, D. Thomas 1); Neshannock 5 (Sansone 3, Nittinger 1, VanEman 1).

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