Penn-Trafford makes most of breaks to beat Hempfield
Penn-Trafford coach Jim Rocco needed an early timeout to settle his team down Friday night in a Section 1-AAAA matchup against rival Hempfield.
The well-timed break was what Penn-Trafford needed.
Penn-Trafford reversed an early nine-point deficit and defeated youthful Hempfield, 58-45. The win improves the Warriors to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the section.
Hempfield dropped its third consecutive game after opening the season 3-0. The Spartans are 1-1 in the section.
Penn-Trafford was able to take command by playing good defense and outscored Hempfield, 32-8, in the second and third quarters. The Warriors’ largest lead was 43-21 early in the fourth.
Rocco was not pleased with his team’s start and was equally displeased with how they finished. He needed a couple of fourth-quarter timeouts to make his point.
“They knew what they had to do, but we just had to remind them and settle them down,” Rocco said. “Hempfield has some good shooters, and we took too many chances early.”
Hempfield raced out to an 11-2 lead in the first 3 minutes, 27 seconds of the game on 3-pointers by Chris Clayton, Mitch Golden and Braden Brose. The Spartans led 13-9 after a quarter.
C.J. Destefano, Dom Coconcelli and Sean Stinelli keyed Penn-Trafford’s comeback in the second quarter as the Warriors outscored the Spartans, 14-3, and took a 23-16 halftime lead.
“It’s going to be tough to win on the road in this section,” Hempfield coach Bill Swan said. “Penn-Trafford had Latrobe down big in the first half last week. When you turn the ball over and don’t make shots, it’s tough to win.”
The Spartans had 25 turnovers.
Stinelli, who finished with a game-high 19 points, caught fire in the third quarter. He scored 10 points and Penn-Trafford stretched its lead to 41-21.
“C.J. only had one day of practice this week after recovering from an injury, and Sean missed a couple days because of the death of his grandfather,” Rocco said. “C.J. is very bright and tough. He understands the game. Sean is a great floor leader. They played well.”
After Penn-Trafford stretched its lead to 22, Hempfield worked its way back into the game.
The Spartans got as close as 55-45 with 46.4 seconds left behind the strong play of Mitch Golden, who returned after missing the past four games with a foot injury. Golden finished with 16 points.
“We battled,” Swan said. “I felt we played well enough on defense. Stinelli had a quiet 19 and (Sean) Kelly only had three.
“We know what we have. We’ll show up Tuesday and be ready to battle Connellsville.”
Coconcelli finished with 10 points, and Destefano added nine.
“We’re very pleased where we are,” Rocco said. “These guys are willing to learn and willing to work on their skills. That’s what championship teams do.”
Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.