Penn-Trafford boys learn from tough loss, off to strong start
The season-ending loss still stings even as Penn-Trafford marches through a new year.
The senior-laden boys basketball team has vowed to make amends for its early exit from the 2012 WPIAL Class AAAA playoffs. The players claim they've learned from the past.
Time will tell, says Penn-Trafford coach Ryan Yarosik, shaking his head at the thought of a 67-50 loss to Gateway in the first round.
“We've got a lot of experience,” he says, “and when our guys play together the way they know how to, we're fun to watch.”
Penn-Trafford, which shared the Section 1 regular-season title, entered its first-round playoff game as the sixth seed, while Gateway, the preseason favorite, struggled throughout the season and settled for an 11th seed.
“Last year was a tough ending for us,” said Penn-Trafford forward Andy Abreu, one of three senior starters from a 17-6 team.
Penn-Trafford (5-1, 2-0), with just a season-opening, 60-54 loss to No. 2 Hampton marring its record, had won five games in a row entering Thursday's first-round game at the Shady Side Academy Tournament against Obama Academy.
Senior guard/forward Corey Stanford was leading Penn-Trafford in scoring with an average of 22.3 points. Abreu was second at 17.8, and both were ranked among the early-season WPIAL leaders.
Both have aspirations of playing basketball in college. The 6-foot-4 Stanford has received marginal interest from various Division I schools, including Cleveland State and Bryant.
While senior guard Christian Rohaus (14.0 ppg.) also is a prospect, at least two other regulars — senior guard Dorian Stevens and senior forward Brian McDonough — are potential college-level players, according to Yarosik, but instead are eyeing a future in college football.
“I'm not going to play in the NBA,” the 6-5 Abreu said. “I just want to keep playing basketball.”
He said Division III Washington & Jefferson has shown the most interest so far.
With so many players with college basketball potential, is it any wonder that Penn-Trafford faithful are optimistic this season could turn into a special one?
“There seems to be a lot more excitement around us this year,” Stanford said. “We were good last year, but we didn't get it done.”
In a 70-49 victory against Laurel Highlands on Dec. 22, Stanford was forced to the bench with a sprained knee. He readily recalls how Abreu responded by finishing with a team-high 27 points.
“Just like any of our other guys would have,” Stanford said. “I had to leave early in the third quarter. I just couldn't go. I missed the rest of the game, but Andy picked up where I left off.”
And then, there are guys like Rohaus. With all the hype surrounding the 1-2 punch of Stanford and Abreu, he's come away as the team's leading scorer on occasion.
“We all have different roles,” Abreu said. “Christian can hit his shots any night of the week. Corey is a great distributor in addition to his scoring. Dorian often doesn't score a lot, but he really knows how to pass the ball and get it to the right people. Brian is hurt, but when he gets back, he's going to give us a tough defensive presence.
“We all have roles.”
That, Penn-Trafford players agree, can create a chemistry that fuels a successful season — one Stanford hopes will lead to a possible WPIAL title.
“If we keep moving along like we have been,” he said, “we're going to have a nice little run.”
Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-380-5617.