Penn-Trafford looking to stay in playoff contention after unlucky spell
TribLIVE Sports Videos
If the WPIAL boys basketball playoffs started at the beginning of this week, the preseason favorite in Section 1-AAAA would be on the outside looking in.
An unlikely midseason swoon struck Penn-Trafford last week, as losses on Jan. 8 to Kiski Area, 56-41, and on Friday at Latrobe, 72-59, to drop the Warriors into fifth place as section play neared its midpoint.
Yet Penn-Trafford (8-5, 2-3) showed it still has the ability to be the team that was No. 9 in the preseason by beating Fox Chapel (10-3), 49-45, in the Coaches vs. Cancer Backyard Brawls at Seton Hill on Saturday, and perhaps that nonsection win can get the Warriors off to a fresh start.
“It's almost frustrating to win against Fox Chapel, if that makes any sense,” Penn-Trafford coach Ryan Yarosik said. “We've had to address the fact that we're struggling on defense and rebounding, and I have to do a better job coaching to get these guys to buy in to what we're doing on defense.”
P-T had its share of bad luck during the losing streak, as well. Even when they defended well, the Warriors had no answer for senior Mike Soforic, who had six 3-pointers, including a pair of tough bank shots, on his way to a career-high 30 points for Latrobe (9-5, 4-1).
“Give Latrobe credit, they shot exceptionally well,” Yarosik said. “I thought our defense wasn't too bad against them, but things just started snowballing against us. Still, we realize that the only ones that are going to get us out of this slump is ourselves.”
The defensive effort to bounce back was there against Fox Chapel, and P-T needed every bit of it to rally from a 16-point halftime deficit and hold the Foxes to 15 points after halftime.
It also was a second good scoring night for Andy Abreu, who scored 19 against the Foxes — including 9-for-10 at the foul line — one day after he led P-T with 17 against Latrobe. Christian Rohaus added 10 points for P-T in the win over Fox Chapel.
This week will be a crucial one for Penn-Trafford in the section race. P-T was scheduled to host first-place Norwin in a girls/boys doubleheader on Tuesday, after this edition's deadline. The team also hosts last-place Albert Gallatin at 7:30 p.m. Friday in a must-win game if it is to move back into a playoff position.
“If you look at the standings (Monday), we'd be out. But we also recognize that this is a long season,” Yarosik said. “We can't control what the other teams in the section are doing, but we can control what we do.
“The one thing I will say about these kids is that, when they're backed into a corner, they're coming out throwing. We're not happy, but we're responsible for being there. I know our kids will come out and play well, but we'll have to see if that gets us some wins.”
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
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.