Ty Keffer hopes to lead Southmoreland boys basketball team on tough road to playoffs

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Sunday, November 26, 2023 | 5:26 PM


For the Southmoreland boys basketball team, some important business is at hand. Not surprisingly, a return to the postseason tops the list.

The process long has been underway.

“We’ve got some seasoned guys back, some guys who played a lot of basketball for us last year,” coach Frank Muccino said. “We’ve got guys who’ve been working hard and remember the disappointment. We hope they’ll remain committed to the process.”

The leader is senior Ty Keffer, a 6-foot-4 guard, who averaged 22.3 points per game last season for the Scotties.

It wasn’t enough, though, as Southmoreland’s 13-9 record was overshadowed by a 3-7 Section 3-4A mark that shut out the Scotties from the WPIAL playoffs for a second consecutive season.

“It went down to the wire, but we missed the playoffs by a half-game,” Muccino said. “Our section last year was brutal.”

Don’t expect it to be any easier this year for the guard-oriented Scotties. That process of reversing the trend begins in earnest in a week’s time.

With three returning starters, Southmoreland will kick off its schedule with back-to-back nonconference games at Class 2A Frazier on Dec. 4 and against Greensburg Salem in its home opener Dec. 5.

The section opener is set for Jan. 3 at defending-champion Belle Vernon.

In a carbon copy of last year’s prediction, Muccino again is hopeful he’ll have a formidable supporting cast for the versatile Keffer.

“We’re looking for the four guards to score the ball, but he’s got to be the guy,” Muccino said. “Obviously, he’ll have the ball in his hands more than the rest.”

Joining Keffer as the Scotties’ returning starters are fellow seniors Wyatt Richter (7.9 ppg) and Ronnie Collins (7.1).

“We like to get into the offense by running it through Ty, and we’ve got guys who understand that we need to share the ball,” Muccino said. “They’re smart kids, and they can pass.”

Junior Elliot Premus and sophomore Noah Felentzer (8.0 ppg.) were likely to fill the remaining spots in the Southmoreland lineup when the season begins, according to Muccino, who also will be counting on contributions from three other seniors — guards Ty Campbell and Cody Bateman and forward Kadin Keefer.

Premus, a 6-4, 215-pound forward, represents Southmoreland’s best option inside the paint, and Muccino has been impressed with his approach so far.

“He’s a physical-type kid. He’s a big guy who’s capable of doing some damage on the boards, Muccino said. “He’s super athletic for his size. He’s really put together.”

The talent level on this year’s team, Muccino said, is “collectively, very good.”

But there’s a formula to the approach.

“We’ll need to run a lot of continuity stuff, get a good shot.

“The key is going to be are we able to defend the basketball and will we be physical enough to rebound, which is every night?” said Muccino, who enters his 14th season as coach.

“We’re looking for contributions from a lot of kids, and, if we’re able to get that, we’ll have a lot of success.”

Muccino enjoys relating to several of Southmoreland’s players who also performed during the football season, including Premus, a defensive end. Keffer, Richter and Batemen (wide receivers) and Keefer (quarterback) are the others.

Muccino, himself, for years has spent time as an assistant football coach, currently serving as special teams coordinator for two-time WPIAL champion Belle Vernon, which faces Hickory on a first-round game of the PIAA Class 4A playoffs.

“I make sure I schedule basketball after football,” he said. It’s long hours, but it’s only for a couple weeks.”

Southmoreland boys at a glance

Coach: Frank Muccino

Last year’s record: 13-9 (3-7 Section 3-4A

Returning starters: Ronnie Collins (Sr., G), Ty Keffer (Sr., G), Wyatt Richter (Sr., G)

Top newcomers: Noah Felentzer (Soph, G), Elliot Premus (Jr., F)

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