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Basketball

High-scoring Beers leads Yough boys to 5-0 start in section play

| Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, 6:54 p.m.

Yough boys basketball coach Casey Copeman has coached some of the best players in WPIAL history over the last 20 years.

As an assistant coach at Elizabeth Forward, Jeannette and Hempfield, Copeman has been around greats like Steve Swiech, Terrelle Pryor and Kason Harrell.

But not even those players accomplished the feat that Nick Beers, Yough's starting shooting guard, was able to accomplish with his 45-point performance Jan. 5 against Indiana.

“I've been around all those great D-1 athletes, and I've still never saw a 45-(point) performance,” Copeman said. “So I even tried to tell Nick himself, this is really rare. Even the great ones that you expect, still don't do this.”

“It hasn't exactly hit me yet, but after (coach Copeman) said that, it hit me a little bit that it was pretty crazy that happened,” Beers said.

The 6-foot-2 senior, who netted four 3-pointers and 11 free throws in his scoring output, is certainly able to score within the team's offensive sets, but it's also Beers' commitment to defense that has helped lead to instant offense.

“He can shoot the 3,” Copeman said. “He's really good from the foul line. … I think he's above 80 percent from the foul line, but then he gets those little tips, little steals in transition and turns them into layups. I try to tell him, ‘yeah, you're a great scorer, but your defense helps you get those other 10-12 and that's how you start breaking into large point margins.”

In the win over defending WPIAL champion Indiana, Beers admitted he had a feeling it might be a special night for him after a bit of luck at the start of the game.

“I hit a bank shot to start the game; that gave me a little but of luck I think,” he said. “And then I just felt real aggressive, and I felt like I had to do as much as I could to help my team in that game and push my teammates to win.”

But Yough's start to this season has been anything but luck. With a 10-3 overall record and a 5-0 mark in Section 3-AAA, the Cougars are primed to register their first winning record since the 2006-07 season when they went 15-9.

In fact, Yough's 10 wins though 13 games this season are already as many victories as its previous two seasons combined.

Beers and the rest of a strong senior class — including guards Blake Kosor (who along with Beers are the team's top two scorers), Jordan Pore and Seth Matvya, forward Matt Huss and center Jake O'Bradovich — are all important contributors on a team chasing its first section title since 2004-05 when WPIAL great and former North Carolina State player Ben McCauley led the team to the WPIAL championship game.

“This is the first time we have a chance to have a winning record since 2006, and this has been our goal since we were little, and it's finally coming true,” Beers said.

Currently on a seven-game winning streak, including winning the Charleroi tournament championship, the Cougars look to be on their way to the postseason, but they certainly don't want to slow down in adding wins to their playoff resume.

“It's awesome to be winning, it's hard to explain,” Beers said. “None of us are really used to it. … Now that we finally win, there's a fire in our heart, and we don't want it to stop. We don't want that fire to go away.”

Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.

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