Guarded optimism for Penn-Trafford after season-opening win against GCC

Friday, December 10, 2021 | 10:52 PM

Playing its first game without senior forward Ben Myers, who has been a staple in the lineup, Penn-Trafford had a different look to its boys basketball team in the season opener.

The 6-foot-6 Myers is done for the season with a torn ACL, making the Warriors a much more guard-oriented team.

Nothing was funneled into the post with Myers out. The Warriors played wide and stretched the floor.

Instead of playing outside-in, guards fired from deep and created off the dribble with precision and efficiency, and the Warriors scored a 56-51 victory over Greensburg Central Catholic on Friday night in the 17th Hempfield Tip-Off Tournament.

Seniors Nick Crum and Noah Wright are up to the task. They combined for 43 points — Crum with 23 and Wright with 20 — as the Warriors started 1-0.

Crum made four 3-pointers.

“I am really proud of our guys,” Warriors coach Doug Kelly said. “Sometimes life throws obstacles at you. Our kids stepped up. They’re trying to find something.”

Crum buried a 3 to beat the second-quarter buzzer to give the Warriors a 27-24 lead. Despite several pushes by GCC (0-1), the returning WPIAL Class A runner-up, Penn-Trafford never trailed again.

The Warriors stretched its bench, playing a 10-man rotation.

“We’re a different team without Ben,” said Crum , who plays on the same AAU team as Myers and Wright. “We’re five-out now. We had a lot of guys step up, and we needed them to.”

Reigning Trib Westmoreland Player of the Year Brevan Williams, a senior guard for GCC, had 22 points to lead the Centurions, who led briefly in the first half, including 19-14 after a dunk by Williams.

But Penn-Trafford built the advantage to 40-35 after three quarters and had a 11-point lead on a three-point play (48-37) by sophomore Nate Crum early in the fourth.

“We talk about our kids having a little dog in them,” Kelly said. “This game was ugly at times, but we fought through it. We worked the glass and dealt with the adversity well. A lot of our guys did some good things tonight.”

Williams’ and-1 cut it to 50-42, but Nick Crum hit another 3 to stretch it to nine.

“We were hoping our size would show through with Myers out, but it’s hard for that to happen because P-T has such quickness and skill,” GCC coach Christian Hyland said. “They have five guys who can shoot it.”

Sophomore point guard Tyree Turner added 11 points for GCC.

“The game had a playoff feel to it,” Hyland said. “You can’t have one or two lapses against a team like that. We had spurts where we looked good, but we have to be more consistent on both ends.”

Kelly said he considered asking tournament officials to move the game time so Penn-Trafford could watch the Warriors football team play the PIAA championship in Hershey.

“I feel bad now,” Kelly said. “I didn’t want to throw a wrench in (Bill Swan’s) plans. Our guys were excited for the football game. They’ll get to see the end.”

And they did. The team learned of the Warriors’ big 17-14 overtime win over Imhotep Charter on the bus ride home.

“We had to win tonight,” Nick Crum said. “If we had lost and they won, it wouldn’t have looked good.”

Saturday’s schedule is as follows: Greensburg Central Catholic vs. Greensburg Salem at 12:30 p.m.; Connellsville vs. OLSH at 2 p.m.; North Allegheny vs. Penn-Trafford at 3:30; and Franklin Regional vs. Hempfield at 5.

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

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