Union loses, but still alive for state playoff ber
Union (49) Vs. Sewickley (69)
Feb 21, 2009

AMBRIDGE — The WPIAL basketball tournament has a way of turning opponents into fans.

For instance, Union dropped a 69-49 decision to Sewickley Academy in a boys Class A quarterfinal contest last night at the Ambridge High gym.

Immediately after the game, Union coaches and players became Sewickley Academy’s biggest supporters.

Since the WPIAL sends just five Class A team into the PIAA tournament, Union has to hope Sewickley Academy wins the WPIAL title next weekend. That’s the only way the Scotties’ season will continue.

When asked following the game if he would be rooting for Sewickley Academy to wins its next two games, Union coach Dave Smialowski said, “Of course, we want to play at least one more game.”

Judging by the way Sewickley Academy performed against the Scotties, they should get that opportunity.

Sewickley Academy, which upped its record to 19-4, will play Clairton, a 51-50 winner against Lincoln Park, in a semifinal at a date, site and time to be determined. The Panthers defeated Clairton in the regular season.

Union (13-10) and Sewickley Academy were in the same section last season, so Smialowski knew the Scotties would have problems matching up against the taller Panthers. And he knew Tom Droney, Sewickley Academy’s talented 6-foot-6 junior guard, could hurt Union in a number of different ways.

The trick for Smialowski was to try and figure out which way would cause the least amount of damage. He decided to use a box-and-one defense against Droney in an effort to limit the number of uncontested shots he would get.

Instead of shooting, Droney made pinpoint passes to teammates for easy shots.

“It’s like pick your poison because he sees the floor so well,” Smialowski said of Droney. “We even doubled him a couple times, but he found an open man.”

Sewickley Academy had an 8-2 lead before Droney, who finished with 27 points, got on the board. But then he scored three times on drives to the basket and at the end of the first quarter, the Panthers were on top, 17-8.

After that, there wasn’t much suspense about which team would win.

Union kept hanging around. Sewickley Academy went up by 16 points midway through the second quarter, but the Scotties, who were paced by Anthony Thomas’ 19 points, trailed, 34-23, at the intermission.

When Droney tossed in a 3-pointer from the left wing with two minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Panthers were on top, 49-31. They took a 16-point lead into the final period.

“With their size advantage, we knew we had to shoot the ball well and we didn’t,” Smialowski said. “There were a couple times out there where we had guys 5-10 and 5-11 on the low box.”

They had to go against 6-7 Peter Schramm, who had 14 points and 11 rebounds, 6-4 David Bonomo and Droney. Union’s tallest player is 6-3 Anthony Forletta.

The Scotties connected on just 4 of 14 field-goal attempts in the first quarter and didn’t make a 3-pointer until Jason Burkes hit from outside the arc with 2:30 left to play.

“We got some decent looks (at the basket),” Smialowski said. “They play that sagging man-to-man defense and you have to hit some outside shots to open things up and we didn’t.”

Sewickley Academy had Droney guard Burkes, Union’s leading scorer, in its man-to-man defense. Not much is said about Droney’s defensive abilities, but he held Burkes to just four points in the first half and only 13 for the game.

“I’ve worked hard on my defense,” Droney said. “I wanted to shut down Burkes. I know he scored some, but I don’t think a lot.”

“We did a good job on defense,” Sewickley coach Win Palmer said. “We didn’t want all three of their guards to go crazy. That’s why we had Tom on Burkes.”
Nightly Roundup
Game Scoreboard
Union 8 15 12 14 0 49
Sewickley 17 17 17 18 0 69
Box Scores
UNION (49)
Jason Burkes 6 0-0 13
Anthony Thomas 8 3-5 19
Nick DeCesare 0 0-0 0
Matthew Ault 3 2-2 8
Anthony Forletta 1 1-1 3
DeVonta Thomas 2 2-2 6
Mike Pelto 0 0-0 0
Damian Trott 0 0-0 0
Totals: 20 8-10 49

Tom Droney 11 2-2 27
Peter Schramm 7 0-0 14
David Bonomo 4 0-0 8
Nick Blodis 2 0-0 4
Tyler Palmer 3 0-0 8
Carrington Motley 4 0-0 8
Danny Timpona 0 0-0 0
Totals: 31 2-2 69

UNION 8 15 12 14 — 49
SEWICKLEY ACADEMY 17 17 17 18  — 69

3-point goals — Union 1 (Burkes 1), Sewickley Academy 5 (Droney 3, Palmer 2).
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