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Hempfield boys roll over Penn-Trafford

| Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, 10:36 p.m.
Hempfield Area forward Tony Pilato turns into Penn-Trafford's Andy Abreu during their January 4, 2013 contest in Hempfield Township. Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review

Hempfield's seniors made coach Jim Nesser proud on Friday night. In fact, the entire Spartans team turned in a performance that impressed the coach.

“This is what we expect for ourselves,” Nesser said after watching Hempfield roll to a 72-52 victory over visiting Penn-Trafford in a WPIAL Section 1-AAAA boys basketball game.

The Spartans (8-3, 3-1) enjoyed balanced scoring, with Nate Irwin, Tyler Handlan and Kason Harrell notching 12 points each and Mike Nauman adding 11.

Hempfield, which ended a two-game losing streak, led from start to finish, building a 34-17 halftime lead and stretching it to 54-33 after three quarters.

“I haven't been happy with our mental mindset in practice,” Nesser said. “But we had two great games with Penn-Trafford last season, and our kids seem to get up for this game. Our four seniors did a great job leading us tonight.”

Corey Stanford led Penn-Trafford with a game-high 21 points, but it wasn't enough to carry the Warriors (7-3, 2-1), who suffered their first section loss and saw a two-game winning streak stopped.

The game, part of a boys and girls doubleheader, was played before a large crowd at Hempfield's Spartan Field House. It was no excuse to coach Ryan Yarosik for Penn-Trafford's sluggish play.

“We've got six seniors on this team,” he said. “That can't be the reason for an off night. Been there, done that. We've played in hostile environments before. We played at Bethel Park, and we've played some other tough opponents and played well. The environment had nothing to do with this. We just couldn't get it going.”

Hempfield jumped to leads of 8-0 and 12-1 and was never threatened. The Spartans benefitted from a strong night at the free-throw line, connecting on 16 of 22 attempts compared to just 5 of 6 for Penn-Trafford.

“We've been trying to tell our kids to relax and have fun on offense,” Nesser said. “They did that tonight, and it was a great thing to see.”

The balanced scoring attack pleased Nesser so much that he wanted to name all of his guys one by one.

“We're a team that preaches teamwork,” he said. “They don't care about points. We're about winning.”

Dave Mackall is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at dmackall@tribweb.com.

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