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Westmoreland basketball notebook: Hempfield boys, Southmoreland girls take pride in ‘D’ | TribLIVE.com
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Westmoreland basketball notebook: Hempfield boys, Southmoreland girls take pride in ‘D’

Bill Beckner Jr.
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Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Hempfield defenders converge on Penn-Trafford’s Kevin Stinelli during a game earlier this season.

The Hempfield boys and Southmoreland girls basketball teams have something common and it isn’t that you can get to both schools via the Amos K. Hutchinson Bypass.

The similarity is in the numbers.

Both teams lead their respective WPIAL classifications in defensive scoring average.

Hempfield holds the lowest points-against average in Class 6A at 49.4, and Southmoreland’s 35.0 is the best in Class 4A.

The numbers might be inconspicuous to some, irrelevant to others, but they mean a lot to the teams because they represent acceptance and execution of a game plan.

“We have always taken pride in our man-to-man defense and spend a lot of time working on break-down drills and our philosophy,” Hempfield coach Bill Swan said. “We also prepare an extensive scouting report of each opponent and spend a good amount of time walking through our opponent sets and tendencies.”

Hempfield (8-8, 1-5) plays in tough Section 3-6A but has shown the ability to play with any team. Several games could have gone either way.

Southmoreland (14-2, 8-1 Section 3) is ranked fifth in Class 4A and having one of its better regular seasons.

“Defense is all about effort and attitude, and those are daily words we use that you can find on the back of our T-shirts,” Scotties coach Brian Pritts said. “I think there are many factors that are leading to our collective defensive efforts. The obvious is our length. The girls are long and athletic, and that helps to make it difficult on teams to get quality looks. The girls have also bought into playing solid team defense and take pride in playing ‘D’. They do a nice job of communicating and helping each other out on the floor.”

Both coaches are believers in defense jump-starting the offense.

“This year, we also possess the ball for longer amounts of time, which lends to the slogan that the other team can’t score if they don’t have the ball,” Swan said. “Our zones this year have been beneficial as well, and we have really focused on concentrating on the opponent’s best players as well and trying to limit their production.”

Shootout at Seton Hill

Eight county teams will play in the Hoops for a Cure “Shootout at Seton Hill” showcase Saturday.

The five-game schedule looks like this: Greensburg Central Catholic vs. Greensburg Salem (girls) at 2 p.m.; Norwin vs. Hempfield (girls) at 3:30; Serra Catholic vs. Penn Hills (boys) at 5; Greensburg Salem vs. Greensburg Central Catholic (boys) at 6:30; and Jeannette vs. Penn-Trafford (boys) at 8.

Long shot

Penn-Trafford junior guard Bella Long became her program’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made during Tuesday’s game at Albert Gallatin. She hit her 92nd career 3 to break Taylor Cortazzo’s mark of 91 set in 2013.

Derry making strides

The Derry boys’ 67-54 home win over Freeport on Tuesday gave the Trojans nine wins, surpassing last year’s total (8-12).

Derry (9-5, 3-3 Section 1-4A) continues its return to prominence. The Trojans have not won nine games in a season since 2012-13, have not won more than nine games since 2011-12, have not qualified for the WPIAL playoffs since 2007-08 and have not had a winning season since 2000-01.

“We have been getting better the last couple years,” sophomore guard Ryan Bushey said. “We climbed the mountain and reached the peak. Now, we’re over that peak.”

Derry has just one senior in 6-foot-6 forward John Kerr, who quietly has been one of the most productive big men in the WPIAL.

Here’s a good stat on Kerr: He has 23 blocks in two games against Freeport this season.

Butler nears milestone

Latrobe senior swingman Bryce Butler is closing in on 1,000 points career. With 29-point performances in three of his past five games, Butler, a West Liberty recruit, is within 22 points of 1,000. The Wildcats host Penn-Trafford Friday night.

Crawford injured

Jeannette senior guard Dymond Crawford injured her ankle in Monday night’s home game against Winchester Thurston.

Her exact return is unclear, according to first-year coach Jonathan Bass. Crawford tweeted she will “be back better than ever in no time.”

Crawford, who is 20 points away from 1,000 for her career, is responsible for most of her team’s offense.

Case in point: In Monday’s game, Jeannette trailed 16-10 when Crawford left the game in the second quarter. Winchester Thurston won, 59-19.

Layups

Southmoreland’s 63-61 win over Beth-Center on Tuesday was the 100th career win for Scotties boys coach Frank Muccino. … Penn-Trafford will host Hempfield in a girls-boys doubleheader Tuesday. The girls teams were supposed to play earlier this week, but the game was postponed so the Warriors could make up a section game at Albert Gallatin. … The Franklin Regional girls were a game out of first in Section 2-5A as of Wednesday. The Panthers have not won a section title since 1979. … Franklin Regional senior Cali Konek recently topped the 1,700-point mark for her career. That total includes her time at Imani Christian, Riverdale Baptist (Md.) and Southmoreland.

Bill Beckner is a Tribune-Review staff writer.
You can contact Bill at [email protected]
or via Twitter @BillBeckner.