Penn-Trafford fits in basketball sweep before sports shutdown

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Friday, December 11, 2020 | 10:25 PM


One and done.

Before the big pause, Penn-Trafford’s basketball teams opened the season Friday with a doubleheader — the only games the Warriors will play in 2020.

The girls took on Sto-Rox and the boys entertained North Allegheny in Harrison City.

In between games, a sparse crowd — about 10% capacity — was cleared out and the gymnasium was disinfected. Athletic director Kerry Hetrick and staff members sprayed the bleachers and benches.

Players were spread apart on the bench areas and wore face masks when they weren’t in the games. Coaches wore masks as they guided their teams.

Masks also were worn by referees.

Cheerleaders were socially distanced for the boys game.

When the games ended, the teams didn’t shake hands or exchange fist-bumps. They waved.

“Have a good Christmas.”

“Good luck the rest of the way.”

“We’ll get through this.”

“See you in three weeks.”

Maybe.

It was like a bizarro race around the WPIAL as a number of teams opted to play before Gov. Tom Wolf’s state mandate rolled in at 12:01 a.m. Saturday that will pause high school sports until Jan. 4.

Talk about midnight madness.

Teams put on their uniforms for the first time this season, but will it be the last?

“We just played like it was the last game and put it all on the floor,” said Warriors 6-foot-6 junior forward Ben Myers said. “It was one of the most fun games I’ve ever played in my life.”

If this is the boys’ only game of the season, it was a keeper.

“It was special,” said Penn-Trafford first-year coach Doug Kelly, who won his debut with a 61-50 upset over Class 6A No. 3 North Allegheny. “I guarantee you we won’t forget this one.”

Myers scored 14 points, senior guard Josh Kapcin added 13 and eight players found the scoring column, including senior guard Jarred Schoffstall and junior Noah Wright with eight apiece.

Penn-Trafford used a 13-4 run over the final six minutes to push past the Tigers.

Wright drove in for a layup, just avoiding a block by Tigers’ 6-4 standout Khalil Dinkins, to extend the lead to 55-48, before Kapcin made a pair of baskets to push the advantage to double figures.

“There was a lot of selflessness and everyone scored,” Myers said.

With crisp passing and solid help defense, the Warriors looked mostly sharp while revealing their depth and experience. They brought back four starters and several lettermen.

“I kind of got focused on the game and blocked it all out,” Myers said. “But it was definitely weird not having the fans cheering and things like that.”

Kelly was impressed with his team’s effort considering the circumstances.

“It was bizarre,” Kelly said. “In these kind of times, you just adjust and you try to make the most of it. Coach (Dave) Martin tells ours guys, ‘This is the greatest day ever, today. Embrace the day.’ He sent that message to them since the summer. We’ve found a way to embrace it and take advantage of the one game we had right now.”

The Warriors pulled a sweep on opening night. The only girls game played in Westmoreland County on Friday wasn’t nearly as close.

“We just wanted to make sure we had fun today,” said Penn-Trafford senior guard Allie Prady, who scored 19 points in a 49-21 victory over Sto-Rox. “We wanted to play our best and treat it like our last. We hope it’s not. Obviously, we’re all upset, but we all understand. We all want to be safe. We get it.”

Prady made five 3-pointers and paced the Warriors to a 29-0 first-half run that put them in clear command to breeze in their opener.

“From the beginning it was different,” Penn-Trafford coach John Giannikas said. “The starting lineups you had to stand on the side and wave to basically your parents. I thought our girls adjusted well. After the first couple minutes, they played very unselfish, got downhill … opened some things up.

“It was a little weird for everybody.”

Junior Maura Suman added 12 points for Penn-Trafford, including a pair of 3s, and senior Kenzie Powell had eight points.

The Warriors will play in Class 6A this season.

If teams do return in early 2021, they will need to complete a number of practices in order to play. Teams that already logged the required 15 practices will need four practices to play games after Jan. 4.

Both of Penn-Trafford’s teams reached the 15-practice max, so they might be ahead of others after the holidays.

“It’s just about the conditioning now,” Giannikas said. “They have to be disciplined. It’s about staying in shape and being safe.”

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

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