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Mustang basketball teams open season 1-1

| Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, 8:53 p.m.
Austin Dedert and the Plum boys basketball team defeated Highlands, 56-21, last week.

Aaron Loughner | For Th Plue Advance Leader
Plum Advance Leader
Austin Dedert and the Plum boys basketball team defeated Highlands, 56-21, last week. Aaron Loughner | For Th Plue Advance Leader

For the first time since 2004, Plum opened a boys basketball season without a Cressler brother in the lineup.

Judging from the first weekend of play, the Mustangs are easing well into the post-Cressler era.

Plum started the new campaign last weekend at its tip-off tournament by going 1-1.

Friday's game was a 56-21 rout of Highlands, followed by a narrow 42-40 loss against Shaler on Saturday.

“We still have inexperience and guys trying to familiarize themselves with new roles,” Richards said. “Hopefully, they'll get comfortable with them. We still have more questions than answers.”

Despite no Nolan or Andrew Cressler in sight, the Mustangs blanked the Golden Rams, 19-0, in the first period Friday.

Coach Ron Richards stresses defense, no matter who is in the lineup, and Plum forced nine Highlands turnovers in the opening period to quickly take command.

Griffin Meyers will take over as shooting guard, and the senior responded with 14 points, including four 3-point field goals.

What also was significant Friday was bench points. The Mustangs had 20 of their 56 points from those coming off the bench, including senior Matt Dombrowski, a frequent starter last season.

Richards decided to start Austin Dedert in the post, and brought in Dombrowski, who responded with eight points. The veteran Mustangs coach said most teams want to go small and don't have the luxury of two big men, indicating that Dombrowski will see significant playing time, even though he won't always be announced as a starter in the pre-game.Saturday, Plum kept the Titans close before coming up short.

It was a good test for the Mustangs, who had to battle Shaler's Geno Thorpe, considered by many observers to be the top all-around player in the WPIAL this season.

Thorpe, who has signed with Penn State, scored 21 of his team's 40 points.

“Geno's the type of kid who can affect a game in a lot of ways,” Richards said. “He's a very good defender, a good passer and an unselfish player.”

Plum opens Section 2-AAAA play Friday at Woodland Hills in a 7:30 p.m. contest.

Plum girls go 1-1

“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

That's the way Plum girls coach Bernie Pucka described the opening weekend of the season for his team at the Penn-Trafford Tip-off Tournament.

The Plum girls were humbled by the host Warriors, 74-37, in the opener Friday before rebounding with a 49-35 victory over Norwin in the consolation game Saturday.

“We opened by playing a very good Penn-Trafford team, and as good as they did, we did poorly,” Pucka said. “One of the most important things was to quickly get back on the floor and do well after being shell-shocked the first night.”

Against Norwin, Plum jumped out to a 16-4 lead after one quarter.

Sophomore forward Courtney Zezza had 12 points in each game to lead the Mustangs.

Another positive Pucka came away with was the emergence of players such as freshman Ashley Amato and junior Lindsey Herd who can provide depth for another postseason run.

Pucka also said going to the Penn-Trafford Tournament after a number of years at the Seton-La Salle Tournament is part of beefing up the schedule with a number of Class AAAA schools.

“We have Shaler coming later and Pine-Richland in non-section games and we want to try and have as many good tests as we can,” Pucka said.

Like the boys, the Plum girls will start section play Friday at Woodland Hills at 6 p.m.

George Guido is a free lance writer for Trib Total Media.

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