Memories stay fresh for Southmoreland standout seniors Pisula, Comforti

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Monday, May 18, 2020 | 9:44 PM


Editor’s note: This is the 16th in an 18-part series profiling nominees for the Westmoreland County Scholar-Athlete Excellence Awards.

When Sarah Pisula starts feeling down during this covid-19 era, she recalls some of the feel-good moments from a feel-good girls basketball season at Southmoreland.

“That’s actually been one of the things that cheers me up during this long quarantine,” she said. “Whenever I’m feeling down about everything that’s happening right now, I just remember the awesome season we had.”

The senior forward played an integral role in helping the Scotties to a historic run that included a trip to the WPIAL Class 4A title game and two rounds in the PIAA playoffs in the team’s state debut.

Southmoreland went 22-0 in the regular season and won its first section title since 2007. Many coaches pointed to Pisula as the key cog and steady leader. You might say opponents who scouted Southmoreland put her at the head of the class.

That is spot the 6-foot-1 Pisula knows well. She is ranked No. 1 in a class of 130 with a 4.2 GPA. She scored 1,280 on the SAT.

Pisula and classmate Riley Comforti are nominees for the Westmoreland County Scholar-Athlete Excellence Awards hosted by Judge John D. Driscoll.

Comforti was a two-sport standout in football and basketball.

Pisula said she is glad Southmoreland was able to finish its basketball season, even though it ended with a loss to Lancaster Catholic in the PIAA second round. That final game came just a few days before the PIAA opted to postpone and eventually cancel the remainder of the state tournament and the approaching spring sports season.

“Although nobody likes to lose, I think it would’ve been harder to have won and then to constantly wonder what could have been,” said Pisula, who also was an all-section volleyball player. “So I wouldn’t change anything that happened this season. I couldn’t have asked for a better season with a better group of girls or coach (Brian Pritts).”

When Southmoreland needed a big pass play down the field in football, or a run-starting basket in hoops, it knew who to look for: Comforti, who also is a 4.0 student.

A 6-foot-3 wide receiver with range and leaping ability, he holds school single-season and career receiving records. He will continue his football career at Alderson Broaddus.

Comforti had 63 catches for 965 yards and nine touchdowns last season as the Scotties made the WPIAL playoffs for the first time in 40 years.

In basketball, the shifty swing guard averaged 23.1 points as a senior for a playoff team and finished with 1,133 career points. Finding balance in sports and schoolwork was something Comforti figured out.

“All of my teachers were great people and would help any time you asked, but I think prioritizing is the main thing,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to play at the next level, and I knew that school was going to be a key contribution to getting me there, so I knew I had to get it done in the classroom first.”

Comforti was a Tribune-Review all-star in both sports.

“I thought my classmates and I had a pretty decent run the last couple of years and I’m pretty confident that we’ve left a pretty good precedent on the younger players to work hard,” Comforti said. “I think that was mostly on the football field.”

While she will give up playing sports at St. Francis (Pa.), Pisula said the climb to No. 1 in her class has been a process that included long hours behind the scenes.

“I don’t think people quite realize how much time goes into being a student-athlete,” she said. “I can recall many nights during my junior year where I would come home from a game and stay up until 1 a.m. with several other classmates studying and completing homework. It’s going to be very different in college just focusing on academics, but I think I’ll enjoy having a little time to breathe.”

Comforti is anxious to get started at the next level.

“The down time has really given me the chance to think about (Alderson Broaddus),” he said. “I’ve been talking to the coaches and a couple of players and it’s really just getting me anxious to go out and compete as soon as possible.

“To be honest I have been watching an unhealthy amount of highlight tapes and film,” he said. “It kind of struck me that it’s a whole new game. These are grown men, and I’ve really been focusing on adding some weight and just getting stronger.”

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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