Junior playing Major role
in Union’s winning ways
By Joe Simon
New Castle News
There are plenty of strange terms to describe the style.
Dirty work. All over the glass. Cleaning up. Dominating down low. Owning the boards.
The list goes on.
Union High basketball coach Dave Smialowski, who’s been around the sport all his life and knows every jive term in the book, chose “garbage man” when describing the role of the Scotties’ Tre Major, a forward who excels at rebounding, defense and fighting for loose balls, among other things.
Well, after Smialwoski’s mom and a few friends asked what he was talking about, he thought he should elaborate on Major’s new nickname.
“He’s like our garbage man — he cleans things up for us,” Smialowski said. “He gets a lot of the stray shots. He’s the Windex man — he cleans the glass.”
The glass (a reference to the backboard) must have been sparkling on Friday at West Allegheny High School, where Major played a crucial role in the Scotties’ 88-74 win over Bentworth in the first round of the WPIAL Class A playoffs.
The 6-foot-2, 170-pound junior scored 15 points, grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds and played solid defense against Bentworth’s Gannon Mitchell-Walls, a 240-pound forward. The performance earned him Lawrence County Athlete of the Week honors, an award sponsored by Washington Centre Physical Therapy and selected by the New Castle News sports staff.
Major, averaging seven points and a team-high 10.2 rebounds per game, was everywhere against Bentworth. His constant effort led to extra possessions on a number of occasions and helped the Scotties (12-9) sustain their momentum in their 55-point second half.
“Those are the things that win you games,” Smialowski said. “It’s a matter of guys accepting their roles. Tre’s role for us is to rebound, get out some easy baskets and defend their post player. He understands his role, and he’s as important as anyone on the team for us because he accepts that role and he does a good job at it.”
And Major isn’t the only one who understands his purpose. Union’s success is directly related to everyone understanding their place on the team, Smialowski said.
Major said he, and most of the other Scotties, discovered their roles as freshmen.
“We went 19-1 that year,” he said. “It was just us coming together and figuring everything out. Things worked out, and it’s been good ever since.”
Major has figured out quite a bit over the last two seasons.
He was a starter as a sophomore last year and was usually matched up against a player bigger than him. An avid NBA fan, Major said he learned to use his lower body to push players out of position by watching Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, who’s 6-1, 185 pounds, defend the 6-8, 250-pound LeBron James of the Miami Heat in the playoffs.
He combined what he saw on TV with the tactics Smialowski showed him, such as beating a man to a spot on the floor, to handle larger players.
“They’re usually top-heavy, so you have to get underneath them and push them out of the way,” Major said. “They’ll lose their balance and fall around. They’re not used to that — me getting into their legs.”
That knowledge of the game, coupled with his impressive athletic ability, were keys in Major’s development, Smialowski said. The skill set led to him becoming the “garbage man,” and it allowed other players to then find their niche with the Scotties.
“That’s what makes average teams good, and it’s what makes good teams great is having kids who accept their roles and just worry about winning,” Smialowski said. “And I think these kids want to win.”
THE TRE MAJOR FILE
KNOWN FOR: Major, a 6-foot-2 forward, has become an interior force for Union. He’s averaging seven points, a team-best 10.2 rebounds and is one of the Scotties’ top defenders.
PARENTS: Jessica and Thomas Major.
FAVORITE PRO PLAYER AND WHY: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder. “He has the will to win, he can control the game whenever he wants and he just has that tenacity to him.”
FAVORITE TEAM AND WHY: Oklahoma City Thunder. “They’re young like us. They can push it, they’re fast and when people try to slow them down, it just doesn’t work.”
FUTURE PLANS: Major said he intends to attend college after high school and possibly study engineering. He also wants to play basketball.