McMURRAY – Basketball, no matter what level it is played, is often a game of runs.
After Thursday night’s performance in their Peters Township Holiday Basketball Tournament, the Indians would certainly agree with that assessment.
Peters Township opened the first quarter with an 8-0 run and the fourth quarter with a 14-0 run to overwhelm a game South Fayette squad, 63-44. The win was the fourth in a row for the Indians (6-2) after they swept their three-game bracket in the KSA Disney Classic in Orlando last week.
“We’ve just kept playing solid basketball,” Indians coach Gary Goga said. “We haven’t given up second chance points and we haven’t had empty possessions with turnovers on offense. Both of those are the keys for us.”
Lincoln Park transfer Thomas Melonja has continued his strong play as he has worked to come back from injury. The senior forward poured in 20 points with ease. And when he was not scoring, he was setting up teammates, such as Colin Cote and Sean Werner, who finished with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
“Thomas is so unselfish, he really is,” Goga said. “He could score more if he wanted to, but he likes to share the ball and get others involved.”
South Fayette (4-3) scrapped much of the night to stay within reasonable distance of the Indians. The Lions were able to execute long half-court sets on offense to burn clock and get good shots. Don Thomas’ five second-quarter points along with an early Connor Mislan three-pointer helped keep the Lions within 30-20 at the halftime break. But the Indians simply were too much.
Peters Township’s active 2-3 zone defense harassed the Lions into errant perimeter shots. The Indians were able to clear their defensive board much of the night as the hosts outrebounded the Lions 19-13.
“That’s one thing we’ve done better as a group is rebound out of that zone,” Goga noted. “The opener against Butler, we didn’t do so well. The last few games, we have.”
South Fayette looked to get into the game once again when Joe Alcorn’s mid-range shot fell at the buzzer to cut the Indians advantage to 43-32 at the end of the third. But Peters Township turned up the heat with their zone press to trigger their 14-0 kick that started the fourth.
Peters Township looks to notch their fifth win in a row this evening at 7:30 p.m. against Washington.
Washington coach Ron Faust knew his squad was in deep against a talented Upper St. Clair in the opening game.
After hanging tough against the Panthers for a half, the Prexies were overwhelmed by Upper St. Clair, 81-51.
Zahmere Robinson paced Washington (3-2) with 17 points while Upper St. Clair’s Tanner Gensler led all scorers with 25 points. Ben Sandusky and Chris Pantelis chipped win with 15 and 13 respectively for the Panthers (9-0).
Upper St. Clair also was playing its first game after sweeping its three-game bracket in the Atlantis Beach Bash in Nassau, Bahamas.
The Prexies stayed close with the Panthers for much of the first half. Robinson’s nine first half points buoyed Washington, keeping the Panthers within sight as Upper St. Clair held a 31-23 halftime advantage.
But the floodgates opened in the third quarter as Upper St. Clair’s press defense forced 13 third-quarter turnovers, many of which led to easy lay-ups as the Panthers outscored Washington 29-11 in the third.
“It definitely showed what our warts are,” Faust said. “What I told our players, unlike what our fans and parents think, it’s not the other team’s job to stop pressing, it’s our job to get better and beat the press.”
Washington committed 25 turnovers. They also lost starting guard Joe Mercer to an apparent ankle injury in the third quarter. He did not return to the game.