Resurgent Penn-Trafford boys basketball routs No. 5 McKeesport
Share it. Kick it. Shoot it.
These are words to live by at Penn-Trafford these days, junior point guard Zach Rocco said, where the Warriors boys basketball team is playing fast and furious and finding its way back to relevance.
The team rang up 87 points for the second game in a row at its holiday tournament, including 10 3-pointers to give them 23 in two days, as it cruised past Class 5A No. 5 McKeesport, 87-61, on Friday night in Harrison City.
Penn-Trafford (7-2) surpassed its win total from a season ago as senior guard Kevin Stinelli led the way with 21 points and five 3s. He tallied 27 points and hit six shots from deep in an 87-71 win over Plum on Thursday.
Also in Friday’s win, Rocco scored 16 points and made three 3s in the first half, and senior forward Brayden Puskar had 14 points and 19 rebounds, and senior guard Luke Fabac scored 10.
Rocco had 12 assists. He is averaging about 9.5 assists as the Warriors go around the horn for quality shots.
“When I am driving down the lane, I am looking for teammates,” Rocco said. “We have been working together all through the summer to get better. The difference today was our defense and ability to block out. We’re not super-big but we crashed the boards well.”
After a close first half, Penn-Trafford broke it open with a big third quarter, keyed by Stinelli’s perimeter shooting. The Warriors outscored the Tigers, 24-11, in the third. Stinelli buried three consecutive 3s, prompting McKeesport first-year coach Kevin Kovach to pull his starters with about six minutes left in the quarter.
Those players trickled back into the game, but the Warriors had built a double-digit advantage by then, going up 49-35 on a Stinelli basket.
McKeesport (5-3) could only cut it to 16 the rest of the way after the Warriors took command.
“We knew we were capable of playing like this,” Stinelli said. “We knew we could shoot it. We had to go out and show it.”
Four straight points from junior Cam DePalma upped the margin to 63-41.
A 10-1 run put the Warriors up 26, and with backups in for both teams, the Warriors stretched it to 30 in the fourth.
McKeesport standout 6-5 junior Deomontae Diggs finished with 18 points, and sophomore point guard Brison Kisan added 14.
“I thought we did a nice job on Diggs,” Warriors coach Jim Rocco said. “I coached him in AAU, so we know what he can do. Brayden played well for us inside. When he gets his sights on the ball, he’s going after it.”
The Tigers did not finish at the rim like they did Thursday in a 73-69 win over Norwin. That said, they did not have as many opportune looks.
“Our guys defended well,” Jim Rocco said. “We’re doing a better job of helping each other. On defense, you have to help guard the guy with the ball. On offense, you have to help the guy who has the ball.”
Rocco fell hard to the floor late in the third. His lower back and left elbow slamming onto the court made a loud thud. He left the game briefly, wincing as he did so, but returned.
“It actually felt great because my back had been tight,” Rocco said. “It popped it back into place. I am fine.”
DePalma also took a hard fall as he drove for a layup late in the fourth with Penn-Trafford way ahead. He appeared to land on his right shoulder but seemed all right after seeing a trainer.
McKeesport led early, taking a 12-5 advantage on a 3 by Diggs. The Tigers’ last lead was at 17-16, early in the second quarter.
Senior Chris Abreu added nine points for Penn-Trafford.
Bill Beckner is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BillBeckner.