Hempfield defense shuts down Kiski Area in section contest
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Hempfield's basketball season has been like a Kennywood Park roller coaster ride — a lot of ups and downs and twists and turns.
It's given Spartans coach Jim Nesser sleepless nights and a hoarse voice.
Nesser was able to sleep well last night after his team turned in a solid defensive effort against Kiski Area in a battle for the Section 1-AAAA title.
Sophomores Tony Pilato and Kason Harrell combined for 36 points to lead Hempfield (15-5, 8-3) to a 51-44 victory that put the Spartans in position to tie Kiski Area (15-5, 9-3) for the section title with a win Friday at Latrobe.
Kiski has earned a share of the section.
“To be honest, I so was disappointed in our (Jan. 29) loss at Penn-Trafford, how we played mentally, it bothered me. I haven't slept in seven days,” Nesser said. “But I'm proud of them. I know we're young, but as a group we have high expectations.
“We feel we have a good team. But good teams have to finish, especially on the road. We'll see Friday.”
While the finish of Tuesday's game wasn't perfect, Nesser will take it, especially the win.
“It's a one-game season for us; that's the mindset heading to Latrobe,” Nesser said. “It was just like last year.”
Hempfield used a 17-5 run during the first half to erase a 17-12 deficit. Pilato, the 6-foot-7 power forward, scored 16 of his game high 21 points in the first half as Hempfield grabbed a 29-25 lead at halftime.
Pilato was a matchup problem for Kiski.
“We had some execution issues,” Kiski coach Harry Rideout said. “They played very well and very hard. Being section champs is new for us.
“We didn't execute down the stretch, and Pilato is a stronger finisher. He was efficient. We were forced to play some zone, and we haven't done that for two months.”
Kiski Area didn't shoot well in the second half, and it had 18 turnovers. After making 10 of 18 shots in the first half, Kiski Area was only 8 for 25 in the second half.
“We play much better with the lead,” Rideout said. “They sped us up some. We felt we should have built on our lead, then we had a turnover and a missed layup and they converted. We usually play well through runs like they had.”
Joe Brungo led Kiski Area with 12 points. Adam Robison added 11 and Mitch Murdock 10.
In the second half, Hempfield pushed its lead to 33-25 on baskets by Pilato and Tyler Handlan, and the Spartans led 39-32 heading into the fourth quarter.
Hempfield pushed the lead to 44-34 on a basket by Mike Nauman, who had six assists and a team-high eight rebounds, and it maintained the lead thanks to clutch free throws by Harrell, who scored seven of his 15 points in the fourth quarter.
“The key was getting the ball to Tony early, and it set the tone,” Nesser said. “The second half, they made a few adjustments.
“Defensively, we did a pretty good job contesting the 3-point line and getting the long rebounds. And we did a good job containing their dribbler. We knew this would be a nail-bitter. I'm just glad to get out of here with a win.”
Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.
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.
- Gateway hires Freedman as boys basketball coach
- Newman thrilled to sign with Division I Cleveland State
- Steel Valley tabs Schifino as new boys basketball coach