Share This Page

Boys baskeball insider: Uniontown getting balance in quick start

| Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, 11:36 p.m.
Uniontown guard Xavier Ellis drives to the hoop over Connellsville Area forward Jim Leichliter during their Boys Holiday FCCA Hoopfest tournament contest on December 28, 2012 in Connellsville. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review

To this point in the season, there has been no simple remedy to slow down the Uniontown boys basketball team.

Take away the top scorer, which changes regularly, and the next player steps up. Take away the inside game, and 3-pointers start launching. If teams start fouling, well, the Red Raiders are shooting better than 70 percent from the free-throw line.

The balanced, eight-deep rotation has given opposing teams fits. The Red Raiders (7-1, 2-0) have four players averaging at least nine points per game: junior guard Jordan Pratt (15 ppg), senior guard Christian Kezmarsky (12), senior guard Dreher Winfrey (10) and junior guard Xavier Ellis (9).

Add two sophomores — guard Joe Campbell (8) and forward Jeremy Perkins (7) — and it's clear depth is not an issue.

Uniontown Rob Kezmarsky called this year's squad perhaps the most unselfish in his 20 years of coaching high school basketball.

“In all my years coaching, this team plays together the best,” he said. “They really want to be successful and go as far as possible. Nobody complains about points or other little things. They have one common goal.”

That goal, in the short term, is winning their third straight Section 3-AAA title. Long-term, Kezmarsky feels his team has a shot to make a sustained playoff run.

“We knew coming in we had shot to be pretty good,” he said. “So far, I have been very pleased with their performance. The team has a great attitude, and I couldn't ask for more as far as leadership and selfless play goes. They need to keep practicing hard and hopefully it will lead to more success.”

One obstacle the Red Raiders will have to overcome is their lack of size. Uniontown has just two players more than 6 feet tall. Due to the outstanding guard play, however, it hasn't been a major issue.

Uniontown has twice beat Class AAAA Connellsville, which boasts one of the tallest lineups in the WPIAL.

The Red Raiders have been able to offset their lack of height with an up-tempo offense and a relentless defensive presence.

“We have played great team defense,” Kezmarsky said. “Ellis and Pratt have done a great job of helping out on the glass and when we play bigger teams we really just try to play fast.”

In perhaps its marquee game of the season, Uniontown dropped a tight 75-66 decision to Obama Academy from the City League. The Red Raiders controlled most of the game but blew a double-digit, third-quarter lead.

Despite the loss, Kezmarsky is confident his team will grow from the experience.

“Obama Academy is an excellent team with great athletes,” he said. “Our four top scorers have played a lot of basketball. They have a lot of big-game experience and know what it takes to win. We're looking forward to the section games and continuing to develop.”

While the Red Raiders appear to be an early front-runner for the section title, Kezmarsky knows it won't be easy. He said there are several capable teams in the league.

“We've played two section games already,” he said. “There's a perception the section is kind of down this year, but I don't feel it gets enough credit. Derry, Yough, Mt. Pleasant, Greensburg Salem, they are all capable teams. This league is better than a lot of people think.”

Uniontown is prepping for its showdown with Greensburg Salem on Saturday night.

“Their record is very deceiving,” Kezmarsky said. “We've seen them on tape and in person. They have lost to a lot of very good teams. We expect them to be there in the end.”

Brian Hunger is a freelance writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.