Ron Poniewasz Jr.
New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
The postseason drought is about to end for the Union High girls basketball team.
The Lady Scots are set to appear in their first WPIAL Class A playoff game since 2009 at 6:30 p.m. today at Cornell against Winchester Thurston.
Ninth-seeded Union (11-10), which lost six of its last seven regular season games, is looking to establish control tonight. The Lady Scots prefer a more deliberate pace, while the eighth-seeded Lady Bears would like to play at a quicker tempo.
Despite averaging 49.5 points a game, Winchester Thurston likes to play uptempo. The Lady Bears (12-8) have scored 60 points or more four times, and three of those times they hit 70 tallies or more.
“I think they’re a good team,” Union coach Brian Fadden said. “They have an up and down style and they look to run.
“They will run on offense when they can and they’ll press and trap; they seem to be pretty consistent. They’re an athletic team that gets up and down.”
Union is scoring 41.2 points a game. Offense has been tough to come by for the Lady Scots during the late-season slump, scoring 36 points or less four times in the last seven matchups.
In case Union needs any help, Winchester Thurston coach Monica Williams is providing the Lady Scots with plenty of blackboard material heading into tonight’s game.
“They have the two twins (Miranda Heaney and Marissa Heaney) and they are pretty good players,” said Williams, who is in her ninth season at the helm. “They move the ball pretty well, but they don’t have an inside game.
“I think with the offense we have, we should be able to have success against them. If we can play together as a team, inside and outside, we should be OK and come out victorious.”
Alexis Lonero paces the Lady Bears’ offensive attack. Lonero, a 5-foot-3 sophomore guard, is averaging 13.9 points a game, including a team-best 47 3-pointers.
“She can shoot it,” Fadden said of Lonero. “If she’s left open, she can knock them down. She can attack the hoop, too; she’ll be a tough matchup for us.”
Brytney Humphries, a 5-4 senior point guard, chips in 11.2 points and a team-high 12 assists a contest for Winchester Thurston.
“She’s the engine that makes them go,” Fadden said. “She creates for both her teammates and herself.
“She’s an unselfish player and she’s not afraid to take a shot. She’s capable of making 3s, but her strength is getting to the hoop.”
Shala Barney pulls down a team-high seven rebounds a contest for the Lady Bears.
“She’s very good around the basket,” Fadden said. “She will get a lot of offensive rebounds and she runs the floor well.
“Barney does a lot for them right around the hoop.”
Miranda Heaney, a 5-8 senior guard, leads the Lady Scots in scoring at 12.7 points a game, while handing out six assists as well.
“She’s the one I’m focused on,” Williams said. “She’s by far the best player on the team.
“She can shoot the ball. They build the offense around her. If we can stop her, we can contain the team. I didn’t see anything I thought we needed to worry about with the other girls.”
Marissa Heaney, a 5-6 senior guard and Miranda’s twin sister, chips in 11.1 points a game. She leads the county in 3-pointers with 44.
Not by Williams’ standard, though.
“She’s not as consistent as her sister from what I’ve seen,” Williams said. “She’s a slasher; she moves around a little bit, but she’s not as consistent form the outside.
“We’re going to try to make sure she doesn’t stay wide open.”
Williams said Union is a contrast in styles from her team.
“They play slower than us, they’re a halfcourt team,” Williams said. “Defensively, they play man-to-man, halfcourt, some 2-3 zone and some 3-2 zone.
“Once we start running, I don’t think they’ll be pressing us. They don’t play a lot of help defense, either.”
Fadden acknowledged the keys to success against Winchester Thurston are pretty basic.
“We’re going to need to control the tempo,” he said. “We want it to be more of a halfcourt type of game. If the score is in the 30s and 40s, that benefits us.
“Defensively, we need to contain Humphries and Lonero. If we give them opportunities to score they’ll hurt us. We have to shoot the ball well, too. If we shoot it well it will put us in a good position to win.”
This is Fadden’s fourth season as Union’s coach and his first postseason game in that capacity.
“I think we’re all excited for the opportunity,” Fadden said of the players and coaches. “We do have a pretty experienced team that’s played a good number of games together.”
Fadden eased himself into the playoff atmosphere by attending the Mohawk boys playoff game Saturday against Serra Catholic. The Warriors are coached by Brian’s brother, Rob.
“I’m excited for Wednesday’s game,” said Brian, a former Mohawk High and Westminster College star. “I saw Mohawk pull one out. Now we’ve gotta go out and get one.”
The winner moves on to meet the survivor of the Vincentian Academy-West Greene matchup Saturday at a time and site to be determined.
(To check out a photo gallery and stories from last night’s WPIAL playoff action, CLICK HERE.)