Playoff defeat displayed how Penn-Trafford boys ‘grew as the season went on’

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Sunday, February 26, 2023 | 11:01 AM


When Penn-Trafford’s boys basketball team hosted Peters Township in December, the Warriors were embarrassed, losing by 29 points (74-45).

When the two teams met Feb. 17 in the opening round of the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs, the Indians faced a different Warriors team.

Top-seeded Peters Township ended up defeating No. 16 Penn-Trafford, 66-55, but the win didn’t come easy. Penn-Trafford didn’t back down even after falling behind by 16 points in the second quarter.

Penn-Trafford closed the gap to six early in the fourth quarter before Peters Township was able to hold on.

“It was not the outcome we wanted, but how far we’ve grown since Dec. 16 when we played these guys is amazing,” Penn-Trafford coach Doug Kelly said. “We knew they would make some runs because they are a solid team and have a lot of guys coming back too. But I’m proud how we shrunk the gap.

“The difference this time was the fight we showed. That was a big difference all year. Back on Dec. 16, that 16-point lead went to 30 very quickly. But we were able to fight back and make better decisions.”

Penn-Trafford ended the season 7-16 overall, but capped the regular season by winning four of its final five section games to finish 4-6 and qualify for the playoffs. Penn-Trafford began the season 2-12.

The bright spot for Kelly and the Warriors is the youth of the team. Penn-Trafford will graduate two seniors — Andrew Kessler and Ethan Kane.

The top contributors this season were juniors Jason Sabol, Tyler Freas, Ian Temple, Keith Otto and Carmen Metcalfe; sophomores Brayden Stone, Connor Evangeliste and Tyler Anthony; and freshmen Tyler Boss and Zach Feldman.

“The way we grew as the season went on was impressive,” Kelly said. “We went from 0-5 in the section and finished 4-6.

“I love these guys. The staff has done a great job sticking to it, but mainly it’s been our players and the way they come to work every day despite the struggles we had this season. It’s been a positive; they’ve grown together as a team.”

Kelly said that growth was on display against Peters Township.

“That was a big difference all year, that’s what I’m talking about,” Kelly said. “We were able to fight back and make better decisions.

“We turned the ball over way too much against Peters Township. They rebounded well on the offense and they are a great team. I’m excited to see how much we grow in the offseason.”

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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