Uniontown boys basketball coach Rob Kezmarsky earned his 100th and 101st coaching victories Friday and Saturday when his Red Raiders defeated Greensburg Salem, 80-76, in a Section 3-AAA game and Elizabeth Forward, 71-53, in a non-section game.
Uniontown (6-1) is No. 3 in the Trib’s Class AAA rankings and plays an interesting game at Class AAAA No. 5 Latrobe (6-1) on Tuesday.
There is a lot of talent on that Uniontown team, but it and Greensburg Salem combined to commit 50 fouls. There were 78 foul shots, and the teams hit 57 (73 percent).
Teams that commit a lot of fouls are usually playing sloppy defense and, worse, are giving away free points.
When Uniontown lost to Class AAA No. 2 Indiana (5-1) last Wednesday, 81-74 in overtime, the entire Red Raiders starting lineup fouled out of the Section 3 game.
Indiana went to the foul line 59 times, including 21 in the fourth quarter. Uniontown went to the foul line 24 times, but not once in the fourth quarter. That’s no way to win a game against a good opponent.
But Kezmarsky saw enough good things to offset the problems, including Uniontown’s Doogie Sanner hitting a three-point shot to force overtime.
“We showed a lot of character to send the game into overtime,” Kezmarsky said. “The effort was there. Indiana is a real good team.
“It was an exciting game. We’re upset about the loss, but it was a great learning experience. There are a lot of good teams in our section. You have to steal games on the road.”
The game was at Indiana where the Little Indians play 11 of their first 12 games, thanks to the school hosting preseason and holiday tournaments.
But the payback occurs when Indiana is home for only three of their last 10.
By the way, it’s a long drive, even from Westmoreland County, but that’s a good tournament Dec. 29-30 at Indiana, featuring the home team, Latrobe, Highlands and Shaler.
Speaking of Shaler, it’s a young team that is growing up fast after the death of coach Howie Ruppert. Every starter is an underclassman, and there is only one senior — Brian Batko — on the entire varsity roster.
But the players are tough and mature beyond their years and have won three of their first five games, including the emotional upset of previously undefeated Central Catholic last Friday night. Its only losses were outside the WPIAL to State College and Grove City.
Big Section 3-AAAA game Tuesday — Shaler visits Seneca Valley, which has won three in a row after starting the season 1-3. A big game-changer for Seneca Valley: Sophomore guard Christian Durbin, who has recovered from his hand injury.
Speaking of Section 3, how do you figure North Allegheny, one of the AAAA preseason favorites?
It opened the season 3-0, including an impressive 70-58 victory at Mt. Lebanon. Then, it lost its section opener, 58-54, to Pine-Richland — at home — and dropped a non-section encounter at Class AAA New Castle, 59-58.
Pine-Richland is 2-5 and three of its losses are to Class AAA teams.
Keep an eye on CV
The best team in the entire WPIAL? Maybe it’s a Class AAA team that has defeated Pine-Richland — No. 1 Chartiers Valley.
Junior guard T.J. McConnell, son of coach Tim, scored 36 points, including seven 3-pointers, to lead Chartiers Valley to the championship of the KSA Disney Tournament in Orlando, Fla. Teagan Lindsey added 21, Eli Maravich 15 and Kory Witmer 10 in the 84-69 victory Saturday morning against Erie Cathedral Prep.
Chartiers Valley (8-0) has scored at least 82 points in all but two games.
The Erie Prep game started at 8 a.m. That necessitated an early wakeup call, but the team apparently was ready.
Is Section 4 the best in AAAA — or just the most top-heavy?
No. 1 Upper St. Clair, Mt. Lebanon and No. 3 Peters Township are 18-3. The rest of the section (Ringgold, Bethel Park, Canon-McMillan and Baldwin) is 9-20.
Milestone in sight
Carmichaels coach Don Williams, who has led his team to first place in Section 2-A at 6-2 and 2-0, needs three victories to reach 400 for his career.
Three names to watch as football signing day approaches in February — Highlands quarterback Jeff Sinclair, Penn Hills linebacker Dan Mason and McKeesport linebacker Nico Price.
Pitt and Penn State would do almost anything within the scope of recruiting regulations to get Mason and Price. Robert Morris told Sinclair he could be a four-starter at quarterback if he just signs on its dotted line.
Meanwhile, Seneca Valley quarterback C.J. Brown is a man of his word and plans to remain true to his verbal commitment to Maryland. Several schools are kicking themselves because they didn’t pay closer attention to Brown last year.
He still gets an occasional call from some of those schools. wondering if he wants to change his mind, but Brown tells them, “Thanks, but no thanks. I’m going to Maryland.”
Good for him.