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On the road to Hershey: Turkeyfoot is big and can score, too

| Tuesday, March 6, 2001


HARNEDSVILLE - Turkeyfoot Valley may not have the tradition that Monessen has in basketball.

However there are some things the Rams will have over the Greyhounds when they collide in a PIAA Class A first round playoff game at Ringgold Friday night (6 p.m. tip-off).

How about size and scoring.

The Rams (24-4), runners-up in District 5, will put an imposing lineup on the court against the District 7 champion Greyhounds (21-5).

Noah Bungard, the lone junior in the lineup who starts at point-guard for Turkeyfoot, is the smallest starter.

He's 6-2.

Andrew Wass, a 6-3 guard, leads the Rams in scoring with an average of 23.5 ppg. He has scored over 1,200 points in his career.

Teammate Dan Lytle, a 6-4 forward, averages 17.5 ppg and 16 rebounds per game. Eric Miller, a 6-6 center, averages 14.7 ppg. The other starter, 6-3 forward Matt Stark, averages 9. 5 ppg.

'We're lucky this year to have this much height,' says Turkeyfoot coach Sam Collins. 'That's a lot of size for Turkeyfoot Valley.'

And while the Rams are big, they also can score. In 28 games, the Rams have scored over 100 points five times and average 75.8 ppg. Their average margin of victory is close to 20 ppg.

Turkeyfoot was well on its way to winning its first District 5 title since 1995 when things fell apart in the fourth quarter against Berlin-Brothers Valley.

Playing Berlin in the finals, the Rams held a nine-point lead after three quarters, but were outscored 30-11 in the fourth quarter en route to a 62-52 loss.

'That loss hurt me personally more than it did the players,' said Collins. 'I know it bothered them, but they are over it now.'

What hurt even worse is that Turkeyfoot, which went into the game ranked fourth in the state (one spot below Monessen) had defeated Berlin in two previous meetings this year.

Collins said the key to the Rams' success this season has been continuity.

'These kids have played together for three years,' he said. 'I lost only my point guard from last season and Bungard has filled in nicely.'

Wass, Lytle and Miller have accounted for most of Turkeyfoot's offense this season. The key player has been Wass, who can score outside and inside.

'He's a pretty good player for us,' said Collins of Wass, who is being recruited by Frostburg, Waynesburg, Grove City and Allegheny.

Collins admits to knowing little about the Greyhounds, other than what he saw on television when Monessen beat Vincentian, 59-52, to win the WPIAL title.

'They look like a pretty good team,' he said. 'They have to be good if they won the WPIAL title.'

Collins said he isn't much on scouting, preferring to worry mostly about his team.

'I really don't do a whole lot of scouting,' he claimed. 'I know what I have and what we can do. I put my best five players against the other team's best five and see what happens.'

Collins admits that his team may be taller then Monessen's, but he was quick to add, 'They're probably quicker than we are.'

NOTES: Turkeyfoot has lost two of its last four games, including a 67-52 loss to Windber ... Turkeyfoot's other losses were to Conemaugh Valley (56-54) and Salisbury (53-52) ... Monessen will hold another community pep rally for the boys and girls teams on Thursday, 7:30 p.m., at the high school gym ... Tickets for the boys and girls games will be sold Thursday (12-3 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.) and Friday (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.). Price is $6 for adults and $3 for students. Fans must buy tickets for each game as they are different colors.

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