Derry scores close win against Indiana
The Derry Area Boys basketball team is poised to make a stretch run for what it hopes will be a berth in the WPIAL Class AAA basketball playoffs, but the Trojans must realize going in that there is little margin for error.
It all begins tonight when the Trojans open the second half of WPIAL Section 3-AAA play against Yough, the first of seven tough games on the regular season schedule.
Head Coach Tom Esposito said he feels good about his team's chances because four of the seven remaining games are at home.
Three other home games will be against Mt. Pleasant, Greensburg Salem, and Indiana, while the Trojans will go on the road to face Brownsville, Laurel Highlands and Belle Vernon.
The Trojans (3-4, 6-10) closed out the first half of Section 3-AAA play Jan. 13, with a hard-fought 48-46 win at Indiana. Three days earlier, the Trojans defeated last place Belle Vernon 63-45.
Senior Nathan George sealed the win for Derry Area when he scored on a layup with just three seconds remaining. Typically, the Trojans break out of the gate fast but manage to get cold offensively in the second half to make it a little too close for comfort as far as Esposito was concerned.
George drove through Indiana defenders to score what proved to be the winning layup.
Indiana point guard Dave Watters attempted to drive down court, but was held up by DA senior Ron Hixson and fell to the court as time ran out.
At one juncture in the opening first quarter the Trojans led 10-2. When the opening frame ended, Esposito's team led 18-7. Senior Nick Dixon was on fire for Derry Area in the opening frame, as he scored 10 points.
"We've been getting off to fast starts of late but against a team like Indiana which has good shooters you just never have enough points because those kids can get themselves back into a game in a hurry," said Esposito.
It was a strong defensive performance by the Trojans, which mean't a lot when the chips were down.
The score was tied at 46-all with just 1:05 remaining on the clock. With just 44 seconds remaining, alert defensive play by DA's Eric Dipietro forced an over-and-back call, which gave possession to the Trojans.
"That was a great defensive sequence on our part at the end, when the game was really on the line But I believe of late our kids are playing with a lot more urgency and intensity at the defensive end." said Esposito.
As the Trojans move into the second half of section play, Esposito says he can see that his team is playing with a lot more confidence and, along with that, having a lot more fun.
"The kids are really starting to buy into what the coaches are teaching them and all of the hard work is finally starting to pay off for us, but we've still got a long way to go," Esposito said.
Dixon had one of his better offensive performances as a Trojan, as he took game scoring honors with 21 points. George, who has been playing extremely well at both ends of the court, chipped in with 15.
Leading the Little Indian's in scoring was Scott Shirley with 13 points.
In the junior varsity game, Indiana had little trouble defeating the Trojans, 57-32
Ryan Hauser led the Trojan jv squad in scoring, with nine points.
On Saturday night, the Trojans traveled to Monessen and wound up dropping a 63-50 decision to the host Greyhounds.
The Derry Area girls basketball team traveled to Greensburg Salem on Monday night and suffered a 51-32 non-section loss to the host Golden Lions. Cassie Hauser led the Lady Trojans with 13 points.