Trojans use size to power past Union
Union (33) Vs. North Catholic (49)
Feb 25, 2012
New Castle News

ROSS TOWNSHIP — The Union High boys basketball team was not a big fan of North Catholic last night.

After all, the Trojans stormed past the Scotties, 49-33, in a WPIAL Class A quarterfinal at North Hills.

However, Union’s rooting interest flipped as soon as the final buzzer sounded. That’s because North Catholic (18-5) can extend the Scotties’ season. The WPIAL gets five berths to the PIAA tournament, and a Trojans championship would make them No. 1 and Union No. 5. A North Catholic loss would end the Scotties’ year.

So, now the Scotties (12-10) must wait.

“We’ll do a lot of shooting and do some dry offense and different things just to keep them fresh. It does make it tough, but, if we get in, we’ll take it,” Union coach Dave Smialowski said. “I told the guys to not let this loss do anything to the season they had. They had a wonderful year and people didn’t expect them to do what they did. They came in third place in a very good section and made it to the final eight here, so let’s build on it.”

North Catholic, the second seed, takes on Cornell, a 54-48 winner over Clairton, in Tuesday’s semifinal matchup at a time and site to be determined. Top-seeded Lincoln Park and Vincentian square off in the other semifinal.

“It’s great to be able to get back on the winning track,” North Catholic coach Dave Long said. “Our last game last year was against Lincoln Park and they sent us packing. We’re hoping to maybe to get back there and be in the Palumbo climate. We have another big game left before that. I think the boys are up to the task. They are playing as well defensively as I expect them to.”

Union ran into a matchup problem with North Catholic’s 6-foot-4 forward Danny Savulchak and 6-10 center Jon LeGrande. Savulchak tallied a game-high 22 points, while LeGrande added 16.

“That’s a fantastic basketball team,” Smialowski said. “They are playoff-tested and they do a lot of good things. They are just a solid basketball team. The big kid is a tough matchup. It’s one thing to be 6-10, but when you carry the size that he carries, it just makes it that much tougher.”

The teams battled to a 7-all tie after the first. Joe Salmen drained a 3-pointer for the Scotties, while Markel Peace and Ben Young both had hoops. Savulchak scored all of North Catholic’s points in the frame.

“We didn’t want it to the extent of 7-7; we wanted to get out a little more. But, I was fine with that,” Smialowski said. “If we were going to play slow, that was fine. We knew they were going to play slow coming in and try to slow us down because they are more of a methodical team and we knew that was going to happen.”

Salmen cashed in another trey to give Union a 10-7 lead to start the third. However, the Trojans pounded the ball inside to LeGrande and it paid off as the team went on a 22-0 run. LeGrande scored the first seven of those points to fuel North Catholic.

“I have a lot of respect for Union,” Long said. “They have great foot speed; they attack the boards. Our guys were kind of walking on eggshells for a while. I thought it was important to stress our strength, which was to get the ball inside. That seven-point streak (from LeGrande) was the lightning bolt that jumpstarted our players.”

The Scotties struggled offensively in the second and didn’t register a point the rest the way. The drought gave them a 27-10 halftime deficit.

“The second quarter came and we just couldn’t make shots,” Smialowski said. “We got out of our offensive rhythm.”

North Catholic increased its lead to 45-22 after three quarters. The team settled for a 16-point win.

Markel Peace led Union with nine points, while Salmen finished with six.

Nightly Roundup
Feb 25, 2012 Nightly Roundups
Game Scoreboard
Union 7 3 12 11 0 33
North Catholic 7 20 18 4 0 49
Box Scores
UNION (33)
Joe Salmen 2 0-0 6
Drew Robinson 1 1-4 3
Tre Major 1 0-0 3
Markel Peace 4 0-0 9
Benjamin Young 1 0-1 2
Toryan Respress 2 0-0 4
Wayne Seamans 1 1-2 4
Jordan Conrad 1 0-2 2
Totals: 13 2-9 33

Ryan Kirby 0 0-0 0
Pat Reilly 0 0-0 0
Brandt Gribbin 3 1-1 7
Danny Savulchak 10 1-2 24
Jon LeGrande 7 2-3 16
Ryan Lonn 1 0-0 2
P.J. Fulmore 1 0-0 2
Totals 22 4-6 49

UNION 7 3 12 11 — 33
NORTH CATHOLIC 7 20 18 4 — 49

3-point goals — Union 4 (Salmen 2, Major 1, Peace 1), North Catholic 1 (Savulchak 1).
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