Community support swells for Southmoreland girls hoops

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Tuesday, March 10, 2020 | 6:02 PM


Carson’s Catering in Scottdale welcomed the Southmoreland girls basketball team in for a buffet dinner after Saturday’s PIAA playoff win — the first in the state postseason for the Scotties.

Pasta, chicken parmesan, hot sausage, stuffed shells, ravioli, soup and salad — all of it, on the house.

A carb overload for the establishment’s darlings of the hardwood? Why not?

Earlier in the season, Aumer’s Sports Bar & Grille in Mt. Pleasant hooked the team up with pizza and wings.

Other Scottsdale establishments, such as Wish’s Bar and Grille, have provided snacks and drinks throughout the season. Fox’s Pizza also has been gracious.

This team and its run of success has been a group effort. One big pizza party where everyone wants a piece of the pie.

“We have been so fortunate to have the support from the community that we’ve had,” Scotties coach Brian Pritts said. “It has been unbelievable. I’ve had so many alumni reach out to tell us, ‘Great job.’ It all means a lot to us.”

The Scotties are eating well these days, yes, but they’re also giving a sports-starved town a reason to get excited.

More people are getting their hands stamped as they follow the team in droves. Some are coming out of the woodwork to get behind the Scotties.

“Just look at the crowd we had at the Pete,” longtime team statistician Eric Everhart said. “I’m so proud of the kids. It’s a great thing to see for the girls. They are a pleasure to watch. We haven’t seen anything like this.”

Southmoreland (25-1) never has made it this far in the postseason, and its benchmark season will continue Wednesday night against District 3 champion Lancaster Catholic (26-3) in the Class 4A second round.

More backers are expected to make the long trek to Bedford High School.

Lancaster Catholic has won the last three District 3 titles and has four state championships, the last in 2018. The Crusaders put together a 62-game winning streak that was snapped last season in the PIAA quarterfinals by Mifflinburg, 72-70 in overtime. Mifflinburg lost to North Catholic in the semifinals.

Dozens of Southmoreland fans stocked the bleachers Saturday at Greensburg Salem when the Scotties dumped Huntingdon, 57-29, in the PIAA opener.

“We’re doing this for the hometown,” senior forward Sarah Pisula said. “People haven’t followed us like this before. More and more people keep coming out to the games. Russ Grimm was here (Saturday).”

Everhart has kept stats for girls basketball, football and softball for two decades and has seen the bad times morph into the good.

“It all started with the softball team (in 2018),” he said, referring to an uptick in several athletic programs at Southmoreland.

The softball team won a WPIAL title that year, and the football team finally made the playoffs this past season for the first time in 40 years.

But this basketball team has been a spectacle, a gift that keeps on giving. Faithful watched the Scotties finish the regular season undefeated and reach the WPIAL championship at Petersen Events Center. A sea of red greeted the team at the home of the Pitt Panthers as the Scotties lost to WPIAL power North Catholic, 61-44.

“We know when we play we have the community on our back,” sophomore forward Gracie Spadaro said. “It’s been so awesome to see. They follow us everywhere.”

Winning, Pritts said, has been the team’s way of repaying the community for its support.

“I think that’s why the girls were so stung after we lost (to North Catholic) at the Pete,” the coach said. “When they lost, they felt they let the community down.”

The state playoffs are the ultimate do-over for WPIAL teams. By winning its first PIAA playoff game in its first try, Southmoreland showed it still has an appetite for more.

And an audience to watch their next move.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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