Scotties take tourney title in OT
Union (64) Vs. Shenango (58)

The Union High boys basketball team captured its own holiday tournament title.

But, to contend for any more championships, the Scotties know they still have some work to do.

Union saw a 12-point halftime lead evaporate last night against Shenango as the Wildcats forced overtime. However, the Scotties came out with a strong performance in the extra frame to post a 64-58 triumph.

The two teams were tied, 12-12, at the end of the first quarter. Yet, Union stormed to a 26-point second frame to grab a 38-26 advantage at intermission. The Scotties seemed on the verge of blowing out Shenango in the second half, but struggled in the final two periods.

“I’ve been preaching to them that if we make layups and free throws, the game is over,” Union coach Dave Smialowski said. “Our concentration level, I don’t know if it’s there on the free throws or layups, but it’s got to get better. If we get to the playoffs, that’s going to bite you.”

Union rolled past the ’Cats, 68-44, when the two teams met in the season opener on Dec. 5. Smialowski did not expect a repeat performance this time around.

“We got a little lackadaisical with the ball and threw it away a little bit in the second half. But, I give Shenango credit because that’s a good team,” he said. “We played them in the first game of the year and we beat them pretty easily. I’ve seen that they have improved and that’s a credit to their coaching staff and their players getting after it. You knew that they’d make a run because they are a good team. We made mistakes, but they played well.”

The Scotties clung to a 50-44 lead with 2:02 left in regulation. However, Shenango used a 6-0 run to close the fourth quarter. Mike Murcko swished a pair of hoops and Rich Gaston added an inside bucket to knot the game with 15 seconds left on the clock. Union’s final attempt missed its target as the buzzer sounded.

In the overtime period, the Scotties regained their composure. Jason Burkes hit a jumper 24 seconds into the frame and the hosts did not relinquish the lead. Union proceeded to convert 12 of 16 free-throw attempts in the stanza to hold off the ’Cats.

“They were a little disappointed in the huddle at the end of the fourth quarter. I told them that we just had to play four more minutes and we’d be fine. We got them composed and then they went out there and played composed,” Smialowski said. “In the overtime, we did step up and hit some free throws. We’ll take the win.”

Anthony Thomas, Nick DeCesare and Burkes all tallied four points in overtime for the Scotties.

“Coach stressed we had to buckle down and concentrate and that’s what we did,” Thomas said. “We made little mistakes like missing layups and free throws and that hurt us. If we clean that up, we’ll be fine.”

Thomas led Union with 20 points and earned tournament MVP honors.

“It’s nice, but the team winning the tournament is more important. The honors are just extra,” he said.

Burkes finished with 18 points and joined Thomas on the all-tournament team.

Gaston had a game-high 23 points for Shenango, while Murcko added 20. Both earned all-tournament team honors along with Laurel’s Jake Dando and Wilmington’s Ian Kelly.
Game Scoreboard
Union 12 26 6 6 14 64
Shenango 12 14 12 12 8 58
Box Scores
Brian Herb 6 0-1 13
Bobby Gwin 0 0-0 0
Chris Grant 0 0-0 0
Mike Murcko 8 1-3 20
Rich Gaston 11 1-3 23
Dave McCowin 0 0-0 0
Jordan Hill 0 0-0 0
Joe Colavecchia 1 0-0 2
Brett Cassell 0 0-0 0.
Totals: 26 2-6 58.

UNION (64)
Anthony Thomas 6 6-10 20
Jason Burkes 8 2-3 18
Matt Ault 4 1-3 10
Anthony Forletta 0 0-0 0
Matt Adamo 0 1-2 1
Nick DeCesare 1 4-4 6
Devonta Thomas 1 0-0 2
Mike Pelto 3 0-0 7.
Totals: 23 14-22 64.

SHENANGO 12 14 12 12 8 — 58
UNION 12 26 6 6 14 — 64

3-point goals — Shenango (Murcko 3, Herb 1), Union (A. Thomas 2, Ault 1, Pelto 1).

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