Yough boys crank it up, carry 10-game winning streak into WPIAL Class 3A playoffs

Thursday, February 16, 2023 | 11:01 AM

Somebody turned up the volume at Yough.

A season that began with promise, flirted with disappointment, then resurfaced as something special, has the Cougars boys basketball team back in WPIAL contention.

A slow dance has kicked into a rumba around Herminie, where the Cougars (15-7) are section champions for the first time since 2005 — all-time leading scorer Ben McCauley’s senior year — and are the No. 7 seed in the Class 3A playoff bracket.

“We knew what we had, and there was a lot of talk about us being this and that, but the question that kept coming up all year was, are we tough enough?” coach Jim Nesser said. “Could we beat a good team and get that signature win? We’ve hit a good patch here.”

Yough (15-7), which hosts No. 10 Burrell (10-12) at 7 p.m. Monday in the first round, has won 10 in a row, including an impressive 45-41 win at Washington.

The turnaround from a mostly nondescript 5-7 start that seemed to have the team moving from side to side to a stack of wins and shift in confidence came before the Washington game.

“When we beat McGuffey at home (43-23), we started to calm down and play,” Nesser said. “You started to see offense and defense, both sides, coming together for us.”

After grinding out a 48-38 win at Brownsville, the Cougars beat Class 4A Greensburg Salem, 60-40, and went on the road and clipped Washington at the Little Prexies’ vintage gymnasium.

“That was a game where we showed our depth a little bit,” Nesser said. “Terek (Crosby) had 11 and Austin (Matthews) had nine, and we still won. (Ty) Travillion scored 17 that night.”

Crosby, one of the top scorers in the WPIAL, is averaging 22.8 points. He has over 1,200 points for his career as a junior.

While Yough’s bench doesn’t extend very far, Nesser gets the most out of a six- to seven-man rotation.

“I felt like defense has been our strength all year,” Nesser said.

The Cougars have held two of their last three opponents — Mt. Pleasant and Charleroi — to 17 points.

Their defensive average of 39.1 points per game is the lowest in 3A.

“I felt like our defense could be efficient, and it has been,” Nesser said. “We’ve played good team defense. That’s what I like most: defense. I ham-and-egg it on offense, but I like to (teach) defense.”

With the sound up.

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


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