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Penn-Trafford boys prepare for key stretch

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Doug Gulasy | Penn-Trafford Star
Penn-Trafford center Sam Kavel (left) looks for an opening during a game against Hempfield on Jan. 4, 2014, at Penn-Trafford High School.
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Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The Penn-Trafford boys basketball team is hoping to return to the playoffs in 2013-14 after missing out last season.

The next week will have a major impact on whether the Warriors can accomplish that goal.

Penn-Trafford (4-6, 1-2) will begin a run of three key section games beginning with a contest at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Kiski Area. The Warriors will follow Thursday's game with matchups against Latrobe on Friday and Norwin next week. Penn-Trafford began the week tied for fourth place in Section 1-AAAA.

“This is a critical point in our season moving forward here,” Penn-Trafford coach Ryan Yarosik said. “We have to go to Kiski, and then we have Latrobe and Norwin. If we want to make a push to the playoffs, we'd better beat some of those teams.”

Ten games into the season, Penn-Trafford is still dealing with some inconsistency. The Warriors enter Thursday's game against Kiski on a three-game losing streak after losing, 59-40, to Hempfield last weekend.

“We knew this was going to be a stiff contest coming into the game,” Yarosik said after the loss. “We thought we'd put a little more fight into it today. For whatever reason, it just wasn't there, and there's not much you can say.

“They're a young group. You've just got to continue to stay positive with them. There's no doubt in my mind we can come out and beat Kiski on (Thursday), as bad as we looked here. It's been kind of a trend. We compete and we fight and we beat some good teams, and we struggle against some teams we probably shouldn't struggle against. That certainly over there is a well-oiled machine that we ran into. I just wish we would have had a little better of a performance.”

The game against Hempfield continued a recent trend of falling behind early for Penn-Trafford. Hempfield led, 15-7, after the first quarter, 32-16 at halftime and was up by as many as 28 points in the second half.

“I think a lot of it had to do with their physicality inside,” Yarosik said. “You try and simulate in practice how a game can be physical and how talented they are. It's tough to simulate with a younger crew. I think it was kind of a shellshock in the beginning of the game (and) kind of took our edge away from us right away. I think it took us too long to respond in terms of being physical right back with them.”

As Penn-Trafford prepares to embark on its key stretch, Yarosik said the team would emphasize defense in practice.

Despite how the game against Hempfield turned out, he said he believed the Warriors could come out strong against Kiski.

“When you have a team that's young and inexperienced, they really don't know any better,” he said. “I have no doubt they'll come ready to work.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830, via email at or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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