Yough boys roll to first-round win over Burrell in Class 3A

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Monday, February 20, 2023 | 9:54 PM


Yough knew if it was going to capture its first WPIAL boys basketball playoff victory in 18 years, it would have to exhibit self-discipline with the lead, show poise on defense and perhaps, above all, play together.

“We had to show up,” junior guard Terek Crosby said.

Yough did all of those things against a short-handed Burrell team and cruised 46-26 in a WPIAL Class 3A first-round game before a spirited home crowd Monday night on Cougar Mountain.

That makes 11 wins in a row for the Cougars (16-7), who followed their first section title since 2005 (co-championship with Washington) with their first postseason victory since star Ben McCauley’s senior year. Yough made it to the WPIAL final that season and lost to Moon.

It remains to be seen if seventh-seeded Yough is a finals-caliber team in these playoffs, but an opening win gives the team confidence.

“I was proud of our guys and how they dealt with the pressure,” Yough coach Jim Nesser said. “These games come down to defense and rebounding. You want to carry over what you have done well all year.”

Yough moves on to play No. 2 seed Neshannock (17-5) in the quarterfinals Thursday at a time and site to be determined.

“We had to stay locked in,” said Crosby, who had a game-high 15 points. “We were good on defense, and we shared the ball. We played good overall as a team.”

Burrell (13-10), which didn’t let up defensively until the final buzzer, played without leading scorer Macky Bennis, a junior who, like Crosby, averages 22 points.

The Buccaneers struggled to string together offense as they fell behind 25-7 by halftime.

“The defensive effort was there, and that is what we have preached all season,” Burrell coach Mike Fantuzzo said. “We held them to 46 points, which is exactly what we wanted to do. We just couldn’t score. We had looks. It was just an off night.”

Yough senior Parker Rost proved to be a formidable second scoring option to Crosby. He had 13 points and threw down a jam off a steal late to punctuate the third quarter with the Cougars up 40-19.

“Parker really stepped up,” Nesser said. “He has worked hard on and off the court.”

Crosby added a pair of dunks.

“We came in with the motto, just get it done,” Rost said. “That was my first in-game dunk since AAU. It was amazing to get it tonight.”

Yough led 10-3 after the first quarter. Crosby delivered a dunk down the lane as the Cougars’ pressure forced some early transition.

Burrell came out with its motion offense and made a number of passes before attempting shots.

Yough made four straight baskets to increase its advantage to 16-3, and a 3-pointer and two free throws from junior Austin Matthews pushed the margin to 25-5.

Burrell could only get within 12 in the second half, when junior Joey Discello, who started in place of Bennis, hit a 3 to make it 29-17.

Sophomore Tucker Bitar, who rarely rested, led Burrell with 11 points.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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