Scotties get off to flying start
Shenango (44) Vs. Union (68)
Dec 05, 2008
By JOE SAGER
The Union High boys basketball team believes it has some unfinished business.
Last year, the Scotties advanced to the WPIAL Class A semifinals before falling to Serra Catholic. The defeat ruined Union’s hopes for its first district title since 2003.
The Scotties began this season with hopes for much more. They got off to a good start last night in a 68-44 rout of Shenango at the Neshannock Early Bird Tournament.
“We do have some experience that came back from last year,” Union coach Dave Smialowski said. “In the beginning of the game, I told the kids there would be a lot of energy and adrenaline flowing and, if we could get through that, we could just play our game. We pressured up and we played very well. I am very happy with the effort the whole way around.”
Anthony Thomas and Jason Burkes led the way for Union, which battles Neshannock at 7:30 tonight for the tourney title. The two guards nearly outscored the Wildcats alone as they compiled 37 points on the night.
“I have been saying all year that it’s going to be a nice one-two punch for us,” Smialowski said. “They are both very offensive-minded players. They have worked hard to get where they are, so they deserve what they are getting. They are playing very hard and I couldn’t ask for anything more from those two.”
Thomas, a lightning-quick junior, tallied a game-high 24 points. Burkes, a senior, added 13 points for the Scotties.
“They definitely have some good guards; they are quick,” Shenango coach Bob McQuiston said. “Thomas is just a good player. He can shoot it and go to the hoop. Burkes has a great shot and he can go to the basket as well.”
Those two players outscored Shenango, 21-20, in the first half as Union carried a 36-20 edge into the locker room.
The ’Cats opened the third quarter with a 9-2 run to trim the deficit to nine points, 38-29. However, Smialowski called a timeout and the Scotties exploded for a 16-2 spree to end the frame.
“We came out regrouped at halftime and figured out what we needed to do in the second half,” McQuiston said. “I thought we started off well in the second half and made a little run, but Union made some adjustments and it’s pretty tough to come back when you’re down big.”
Union overcame Shenango’s 2-3 zone to take total control of the contest in the third quarter.
“When you see that zone, you have that tendency to make one pass and fire it up. That’s what happened. We took the timeout to calm them down,” Smialowski said. “I told them to work the basketball and we’d get good looks. We got them out of that zone and made them guard us man-to-man and I think that made a little difference, too.”
Shenango meets West Middlesex in the consolation game at 6 p.m.
“You don’t want to start the season with a loss, but, at the same time, it’s a good learning experience for us,” McQuiston said.
Rich Gaston led the ’Cats with 18 points, while Mike Murcko added 12.