Sewickley Academy's Muscato scores 27 to lead Panthers past Quigley
By Nathan Smith
Published: Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, 12:36 p.m.
Last season, Anthony Muscato proved to be a reliable scorer for the Sewickley Academy boys basketball team, hitting double digits several times while showing an ability to hit shots from beyond the arc.
But the Panthers coaching staff wanted to see more.
“We talked to him last spring and told him he needs to be a bigger scorer for us,” Sewickley Academy coach Win Palmer said. “We knew he had the capability to be a good shooter, to get to the basket, hustle on defense and makes plays.”
Muscato took a step toward showing that potential in a 82-53 win over Quigley Catholic last week. The junior guard scored a career-high 27 points — with six 3-pointers — to guide his team to the win.
The Spartans kept close with the Panthers in the first half, trailing by only two at the end of one quarter of play.
In the second frame, Quigley Catholic jumped out to a 25-21 lead midway through the quarter.
With the teams tied 27-27 with two minutes to go, Muscato hit a 3-pointer to give his squad a 30-27 lead. With 11 seconds left in the half, Muscato extended the lead as he drove to the basket and scored to put his squad up 34-30 at the break.
“Our coaches kept telling us the whole game to stick with it and don't get frustrated,” Muscato said. “We knew we needed to keep playing Sewickley basketball and eventually we would take over.”
But after coming out of halftime, the Panthers never looked back. Sewickley Academy outscored the Spartans, 24-10, in the third quarter with 10 points coming from Muscato.
Muscato was not the only Panther to hit double digits, as Luke Vith scored 13 while Keenan Hickton and Drew Johnson chipped in 10 each.
Knowing there are other players who can help carry the scoring has allowed Muscato to just play his game.
“If I started to get doubled, I know there are other guys who can pick it up,” Muscato said. “We just want to make sure we get the job done. Plus the team is really tight. We're all friends off the court.”
The challenge of becoming one of the team's top scorers is one Muscato embraced. He described himself as 3-point shooter last year and has worked hard on driving to the hoop as well as his defense.
His work is paying off as Palmer is noticing an increased skill level and confidence from the junior guard.
“We felt he was pulling back during the first seven games of the season,” Palmer said. “(Against Quigley) he made a stupid pass and we got on him for that. After that, he played like a man. He is a smart basketball player. He sees and the court and is coachable. That combination is what you like your players to have.”
The win over Quigley was the Panthers' sixth of the season but was more importantly the first in Section 2-A play. After finishing in third place in the section last season, Sewickley Academy is looking for more success the season.
“We set our goals at a meeting to start the year and one of our top goals was not necessarily to win a section championship but to compete for it,” Muscato said. “We want to be able to compete with Vincentian Academy and North Catholic. We are on the right direction.”
If the Panthers can continue to play at the high pace they showed against Quigley Catholic, the goal of competing for a Section 2-A title might need to be replaced with winning the title.
“If we keep the intensity up, we should be able to compete with Vincentian Academy and North Catholic and beat them,” Muscato said.
The Panthers return to action at 7:30 p.m. Friday as they host Aquinas Academy.
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.
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