Thomas reaches 1,000 as Scotties survive
Union (60) Vs. Western Beaver (43)
Jan 20, 2010
By JOE SAGER
It may have been only Tuesday, but the Union High boys basketball team was looking ahead to the weekend.
After all, the Scotties travel to Neshannock on Friday night for a key WPIAL Section 1-A clash. A win against the Lancers would preserve Union’s section title hopes.
The problem for the Scotties, though, is that they had to get past Western Beaver last night.
Thanks to a valiant Anthony Thomas effort and a better second half overall, Union avoided the upset and held on for a 60-43 triumph at Mike Covelli Field House.
“We just came out flat. This was the perfect situation for a ‘trap’ game,” Union coach Dave Smialowski said. “We have Neshannock on Friday and I didn’t want to overlook this team because Western Beaver plays hard. They are a young group of kids and they get after it. But, I think that’s maybe what happened a little bit. We talked about it, but I think it affected us.”
Thomas, who rifled in a game-high 31 points, admitted the Scotties (2-1 section, 11-1 overall) were thinking about the Lancers.
“Yeah, I think we were a little bit,” he said. “Now that we have the win, we’re really looking ahead to Neshannock.”
Certainly, it appeared Union was not thinking about the Golden Beavers (1-2, 7-3), who suffered an 83-40 loss to Neshannock last week. The Scotties missed their first seven shots and turned the ball over twice before Thomas converted a putback with 3:04 left in the first quarter.
The dry spell allowed the guests to post a 10-0 lead. They settled for a 17-8 edge at the buzzer.
“We just weren’t moving. It was very lackadaisical on the offensive and defensive ends. We were letting them do whatever they wanted. For some reason, our legs weren’t there,” Smialowski said. “I told the kids they have to come to play for 32 minutes because they have a bull’s-eye on their back and teams want to beat them. We have to come out and play with more enthusiasm from the start.”
While Union struggled, Thomas did his best to keep the Scotties in the fray. He scored all eight of his team’s first-quarter points and 13 more in the second. Overall, he accounted for 21 of Union’s 26 points at halftime.
“Something we have been working on is getting other guys to score,” Thomas said. “On nights when that’s not happening, I have to step up and do what I have to do.”
Thomas, who entered the game with 989 points, surpassed the 1,000-point mark on a long 3-pointer with 5:34 left in the second quarter. The game was stopped and Thomas was presented with the ball.
“Yeah it’s good. I am glad we got that win, though,” he said. “When I got it, we were losing and I wasn’t excited about it.”
Thomas has 1,020 career points. Don Nogay, who played at Union from 1986-89, holds the Scotties’ boys record for points (1,592).
“He is a great kid and he deserves it. He has worked hard,” Smialowski said. “I couldn’t be more proud of that. Hopefully, we just keep building on it.”
Union found balanced scoring in the third quarter as five different Scotties tallied at least a bucket. It allowed the hosts to expand their 26-23 halftime lead to a 45-33 margin at the end of the third.
“That’s what we needed and that’s when our lead blew up,” Thomas said.
The guests failed to make a run in the fourth quarter. Eric Blinn led Western Beaver with 13 points, while Dustin Creel had 10.
Nate Majors added 12 points off the bench for the Scotties, who beat Neshannock, 77-76, in overtime on Dec. 12, behind a 47-point Thomas effort.
“If we can get this one, we’ll be sitting pretty,” Smialowski said. We’ll be ready. I know they are going to be ready. It should make for a fun one.”