Uniontown pulls away to defeat Southmoreland

Monday, January 22, 2024 | 10:29 PM

When you play one of the top basketball teams not only in the WPIAL but the state, you better bring your “A” game.

That’s what Southmoreland (13-3, 3-2) faced Monday when it hosted to No. 2-ranked Uniontown (14-0, 5-0) in a Section 3-4A first-place showdown.

Uniontown stayed unbeaten after receiving a scare from the Scotties, and it was defense that led to a 66-54 victory.

Midway through the third quarter, the Scotties took their only lead of the game, 36-35, on a 3-pointer by Wyatt Richter.

Following a timeout, Uniontown went on an 8-0 run thanks to a pair of 3-pointers by senior Jeremiah Hager and a bucket by Jamire Braxton.

“We have to play 32 minutes, and when we do, we’re a really good basketball team,” Uniontown coach Rob Kezmarsky said. “For us to get where we want to go, we have to improve. We can’t get beat back door or get caught in a switch. Southmoreland deserves credit because they made their shots.”

Southmoreland stayed close and was within five points (56-51) but turned the ball over, which led to a Uniontown basket by Notorious Grooms.

The Scotties never recovered.

“I thought we were able to withstand a few of their runs,” Southmoreland coach Frank Muccino said. “I thought we played our ‘B’ game. We had an opportunity and just came up short.”

Braxton had a team-high 14 points, including nine in the third quarter. The Red Raiders used a balanced attack as Grooms added 13, K’Adrian McLee had 12 and Kelan Milsom came off the bench to score 11. Hager and Calvin Winfrey had eight each.

Milsom sparked Uniontown at the end of the first quarter by scoring five points in the final 8 seconds, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Red Raiders a 15-8 lead.

Southmoreland came back strong in the second quarter and cut the Uniontown lead to 29-26 by halftime.

After falling behind in the third quarter, the Red Raiders outscored the Scotties, 14-7, and took a 49-42 lead into the fourth quarter.

“Kelan is a great kid,” Kezmarsky said. “I’m proud of him. He’s stepped in when Calvin and Jeremiah were out with injuries. I also thought Jeremiah made some spectacular plays. Part of being a team is having different players step up. Kelan’s defense on (Ty) Keffer was the key.

“Southmoreland is a very good team, and Keffer is a good basketball player. It’s not that we played poorly. I’m just glad we don’t have to play here again.”

Keffer led the Scotties with a game-high 22 points, and Richter added 11.

This game originally was scheduled for Jan. 9 but was moved because of a power outage and snow and wind storm.

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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