Southmoreland boys to rely on toughness to get back into playoffs

Sunday, November 27, 2022 | 4:27 PM

After missing out on the WPIAL playoffs last season, Southmoreland boys basketball coach Frank Muccino is predicting the Scotties will be better this year.

Good enough for a return to the postseason, where Southmoreland recently was a staple before last season?

Muccino thinks so, if …

“The big issue will be our physicality on the defensive end and in rebounding. We’re going to have to be able to play a tough brand of basketball,” said Muccino, who is entering his 13th season as coach at Southmoreland.

He doubles as an assistant football coach at Belle Vernon, which won a WPIAL Class 3A championship Friday by beating Avonworth, 24-7, the Leopards’ first title since 1995.

On the hardwood, Muccino is counting on junior Ty Keffer, a 6-foot-2 guard/forward, who led the team in scoring last season (18.5 ppg), to provide a spark.

“He’s a worker. He’s always working on his game,” Muccino said. “He’s got to be our leader. If we can get some of the other juniors around him, along with the seniors, to help carry the load, that will be a plus. It can’t just be him.”

“The other juniors” expected to make regular contributions are Ty Campbell, Ronnie Collins, Kadin Keefer and Wyatt Richter.

Seniors Kelvin Lin and Elijah Myers also figure on frequently being in the lineup.

“We’ve had a really good summer, and our core group of kids have been playing together for a while, so that’s an encouragement,” Muccino said. “Some of these guys have played at the varsity level a little sooner than they should’ve. Hopefully, it reaps the benefits.”

Meanwhile, Muccino said a “really committed group” of freshmen that he’s high on is waiting in the wings.

“Maybe, down the road, they’ll be able to help us. Maybe they’ll contribute this year,” he said. “That’s something we’ll have to wait on and see.”

While Muccino is convinced Southmoreland will make an improvement over its 8-12 record of 2021-22, he also understands the tough schedule that awaits the Scotties, who remain in revamped Section 3-4A.

The section has been reduced by one team this season to a total of six.

Defending WPIAL champion Laurel Highlands, as well as Albert Gallatin, are newcomers to the section, while Mt. Pleasant, South Park and Yough have been aligned elsewhere.

“We’re going to be better, but we’ve kind of gotten thrown into a a section that, in my opinion, is one of the best in 4A. Overall, top to bottom, the Class 4A field is brutal. Lincoln Park, Highlands, Laurel Highlands, Belle Vernon, Uniontown

“We’ll be playing some good basketball teams.”

Muccino took Southmoreland to summer camps this year at West Liberty University and Washington & Jefferson College and enrolled the Scotties in offseason summer and fall leagues in Greensburg.

“This is probably one of our busiest (offseasons) since covid,” he said. “These are the sorts of things we used to do before then. This is as busy as we’ve been in the spring, summer and fall since covid. We’re back to our routine before covid. Hopefully, it’s something that will benefit us this season.”

In the wake of those offseason games, Muccino remains encouraged.

“We’ve competed. That’s the first step,” he said. “You have to learn to walk before you run. We won a lot of games over the summer. I thought we played well against some other teams.”

Southmoreland opens its season Dec. 5 at home against Class 2A Frazier.

Southmoreland boys at a glance

Coach: Frank Muccino

Last year’s record: 8-12 (4-8 Section 3-4A)

Returning starters: Ronnie Collins (Jr., G), Kadin Keefer (Jr., F), Ty Keffer (Jr., G), Kelvin Lin (Sr., G), Wyatt Richter (Jr., G)


More Basketball

Experienced assistant ready to move into head coaching role with Ligonier Valley boys
Valley turns to prominent basketball alumni to help restore luster to boys, girls programs
Armstrong’s Emma Paul named 2023-24 TribLive HSSN Girls Athlete of the Year
Mt. Pleasant’s Scott Giacobbi retires after 19 seasons coaching girls basketball
Newly hired boys basketball coach Brandon Sensor sees Shaler as ‘right opportunity’