Scotties secure playoff berth
Union (53) Vs. Western Beaver (48)
Feb 11, 2012
Special to The News
New Castle News

The best way is often the easiest way.

The Union High boys basketball team rallied in the fourth quarter to defeated Western Beaver, 53-48, last night in a Section 1-A contest and in the process earned a spot in the WPIAL playoffs. Had the Scotties lost, they still would have made the playoffs because Cornell defeated visiting Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.

But Union players and coaches didn’t have to nervously wait until that game was over to find out if they were in the postseason.

“I’m proud of these kids. They went out and competed and took care of business,” Union coach Dave Smialowski said with a smile a few minutes after the final horn at Western Beaver’s gymnasium. “We don’t have to worry about anybody losing … we’re in.”

It is the fourth time in Smialowski’s five years as the Scotties head coach that the team has made the Class A playoffs. Union missed out on the postseason last year.

“Even though we’re young we knew we could have some success this year,” he said.

Union will learn its first-round opponent Tuesday night at the WPIAL playoffs pairings meeting at the Doubletree Hotel in Green Tree. The Scotties ended the regular season with an 11-9 overall record and in third place in the section behind Lincoln Park and Cornell at 5-5. The playoffs should get into full swing later next week.

Cornell’s victory against OLSH put Western Beaver (9-11 overall) in the playoffs. The Golden Beaver tied OLSH for fourth place in the section — the top four teams in each section qualify for the playoffs — with a 4-6 record. OLSH does not make the playoffs because it lost twice to Western Beaver.

For most of the game last night, it looked as if Union was going to lose to the Golden Beavers. The scored was tied 25-25 at the intermission, but Western Beaver scored the first three field goals of the third quarter to take a 31-25 lead.

Every time Union would make a mini-run at the Golden Beavers, they would hold off the Scotties. Western Beaver was on top 41-36 when Benjamin Young connected on a 3-pointer, but when Union got the ball back Markel Peace, who scored 16 points, missed a 3-point attempt.

For most of the first three quarters, the Scotties’ shooting was as cold as the temperatures outside the gym. They made just three of 13 field-goal attempts in the first quarter and were four of 15 from the floor in the third. The frustrating thing was that a number of those misses came on layups or shots right in front of the basket.

When it was mentioned to Smialowski that his players misses a lot of easy shots he said, “I don’t even want to talk about the bunnies.”

He didn’t mind talking about how his defense came up big in the fourth quarter.

Peace, who missed Tuesday’s night game against Lincoln Park with an injury, tossed in a 3-pointer from the baseline to tie the game, 46-46, with 4:40 left to play. He then gave Union the lead by making one of two free throws with 3:25 remaining.

The Scotties then got a steal at the other end and Young went in for a fastbreak layup at 3:07. Unfortunately, he could not convert a three-point play. Union then came up with another steal, but Joe Salmen, who led the team with 17 points, missed a runner from 3 feet.

Zack Perry made a jumper in the middle with 1:40 left to pull Western Beaver to within one, 49-48, and Union misfired again. The key play came when Jake St. George missed for Western Beaver and Salmen ended up with the basketball. He was fouled with 28 seconds left and went to the line to shoot a one-and-one.

“To be honest with you, the first one I shot I thought, ‘Do not miss it … just don’t miss.’ I was missing (shots) all through the second half,” Salmen said. “And after I made it I was like, ‘I got these.’ Then it was bounce, bounce, spin, bang.”

“He’s good as gold,” Smialowski said when asked about Salmen being at the line at the end.

Salmen made the second and went to the line again with 1.8 seconds left for another one-and-one after Western Beaver missed a 3-point attempt. He made both free throws.

When it was mentioned that the Scotties’ defense saved them, Smialowski said, “Yeah it did … we just dug in.

“We won it down there on the defensive end and that’s where you have to win a lot of games.”

Nightly Roundup
Game Scoreboard
Union 8 17 14 14 0 53
Western Beaver 14 11 16 7 0 48
Box Scores
UNION (53)
Joe Salmen 5 4-4 17
Drew Robinson 0 2-4 2
Tre Major 3 0-0 6
Markel Peace 5 5-7 16
Benjamin Young 3 0-1 7
Wayne Seamans 1 0-0 2
Toryan Respress 1 0-0 3
David Wright 0 0-0 0
Totals: 18 11-16 53

Jake St. George 4 1-4 10
Nick Miller 5 2-3 13
Nolan Shankl 2 0-0 4
Chris Frye 3 0-0 6
Jon Shepler 1 2-4 4
Zach Perry 5 1-2 11
Tracy Brozick 0 0-0 0
Brandon Sheeler 0 0-0 0
Totals: 20 6-13 48

UNION 8 17 14 14 — 53
W. BEAVER 14 11 16 7 — 48

3-point goals — Union 6 (Salmen 3, Peace 1, Young 1, Respress 1); Western Beaver 2 (St. George 1, Miller 1).
JV score: Western Beaver 47, Union 25. High scorer: U — Jacob Jendrysik 10.
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