Connellsville kicks off section play with victory over Penn-Trafford
The ability to make in-game adjustments has been a key part of the success of the Connellsville boys basketball team during the early part of this season.
On Tuesday, playing in their Section 1-AAAA opener, the Falcons started slow but eventually adjusted their game on both sides of the ball on their way to a hard-fought, 52-47 victory over visiting Penn-Trafford.
“Early in the game, they got a lot of second opportunities and we weren't doing a good job in transition,” Connellsville coach Dan Bosnic said. “But we made some adjustments and got some opportunities on offense.
“Then for most of the rest of the game, we didn't give them second opportunities and that was the difference. Their kids played extremely hard, and it was a game we had to fight through to win.”
The first quarter was a good one for the Warriors (2-3, 1-1). They did a nice job of passing around the perimeter and working for some inside shots that helped them grab a 15-9 lead.
But the Falcons (4-1, 1-0) began to clamp down in the second quarter and went on a 14-3 run as Trent Bauer and Jade Maher were establishing themselves inside.
Bauer scored a team-high 18 points, and Maher had 13.
Connellsville's defense limited the Warriors for most of the quarter, but a pair of late 3-pointers by Sean Stinelli allowed Penn-Trafford to hold a 24-23 lead at the half.
Stinelli had seven treys and a game-high 21 points.
Although the Warriors had the lead, it was the Falcons who seemed to have the momentum. Connellsville held Penn-Trafford to three third-quarter baskets.
“We had a cold spell in the third quarter, but I'm proud of them,” Penn-Trafford coach Ryan Yarosik said. “They kept fighting, and I'm extremely proud of the effort and energy they gave.”
Maher continued his strong play inside with three third-quarter baskets. Jimmy Leichliter drained a clutch 3-pointer midway through the third quarter.
Caleb Pittsment put a capper on the frame with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to send the Falcons into the fourth quarter leading 41-31.
“Everybody is contributing and playing a large part in this,” Bosnic said.
The Warriors stayed close throughout the fourth quarter. However, Mike Parlak (eight points) made a great defensive play by forcing a jump ball that favored Connellsville. He then made a layup that helped seal the win.
The victory was Connellsville's third in a row.
“It's something we talked about beforehand,” Bosnic said. “It's always tough to get the first section win.
“We knew Penn-Trafford would be ready to compete. And we know Hempfield will be a great challenge, and we're excited for that one.”
Connellsville plays Friday at Hempfield.
Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.