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Penn-Trafford developing confidence after two straight wins

| Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For the Penn-Trafford Star
Penn-Trafford guard Timmy Vecchio shoots during a game against Mt. Pleasant at the Penn-Trafford Tip-Off Tournament on Dec. 7, 2013, at Penn-Trafford High School.

With a largely inexperienced roster at his disposal, Penn-Trafford boys basketball coach Ryan Yarosik will be watching his team's development closely throughout the season.

Four games in, he's seeing the progress he hoped for.

After the Warriors dropped their two games at the season-opening Penn-Trafford Tip-Off Tournament, they responded by recording back-to-back wins over nonsection foe Woodland Hills and section opponent Albert Gallatin last week.

“I'm really proud of this group in the locker room now,” Hornick said. “They continue to learn and they continue to get better every single day, and that's what's important right now.”

After missing out on the playoffs a season ago, Penn-Trafford is emphasizing the importance of section games in 2013-14. The Albert Gallatin game marked Penn-Trafford's section opener, and Hornick said he was glad to see the Warriors open up with a victory.

“It feels real good anytime you can start off with a win,” Hornick said. “You don't want to start behind the 8 ball. ... You've got to win section games, and you've got to win home games for sure. You can't slip up on your home floor around here. We had a hard lesson on that last year.”

Yarosik said the team's confidence is developing, and that made Thursday's victory over Woodland Hills an important one.

“When you get a young group like that, you don't want it to snowball and think, ‘When are we going to get the win?'” Yarosik said. “We knew with a section game coming in (against Albert Gallatin), we wanted to get that win (against Woodland Hills). Woodland Hills was a very athletic team, and I'm extremely proud of how we handled their pressure. The most important thing that came out of these last two games is the mistakes we made over the weekend, we learned from them and corrected them, and were able to go out and apply it.”

Penn-Trafford showcased its newfound confidence in the 60-40 win over Albert Gallatin on Friday night, as the Warriors sank nine 3-pointers and took the lead for good in a 25-point second quarter.

Sean Stinelli led the Warriors (2-2, 1-0) with 20 points, while Gregor Dudiak added 13. Sam Kavel had eight points and 13 rebounds, and Timmy Vecchio contributed eight points and eight assists.

The full-team approach is becoming standard for Penn-Trafford. Against Woodland Hills, Dom Coconcelli led the team with 16 points, while Dudiak added 11 and Vecchio had 10 points and 10 assists.

“We've been playing together since sixth and seventh grade, so we feel comfortable out there together,” Stinelli said.

“They're an unselfish group, and that's a breath of fresh air to me,” Yarosik added. “They're very coachable. They share the basketball. It doesn't matter who's taking shots around here. They're working on taking good shots right now. And for the most part, they're doing that. It's nice to see that because there's a lot of young kids out there. They're good ballplayers. They're going to be fun to watch here.”

While the offense had good moments against Woodland Hills and Albert Gallatin, Yarosik said improved defensive play was the key to both victories.

“One of the question marks coming in (was) where are we going to find that offense?” Yarosik said. “When you have that question mark, you'd better crank up the defense. That's what they're doing right now. They're playing really good defensive basketball, and I'm pleased with that.”

Penn-Trafford continued section play Tuesday night at Connellsville, in a game that ended past the deadline for this week's edition. The Warriors will travel to play Laurel Highlands for a nonsection contest Saturday.

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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