Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hempfield Runs out to an Unbeaten Start

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Hempfield Runs out to an Unbeaten Start

Article excerpt

Last Friday night's Section 1-AAAA opener against visiting Penn- Trafford was a meaningful victory for the Hempfield Area boys basketball team.

"We played well and it was a big win because it's a big step in the right direction," senior Lane Waltenbaugh said. "We have to win all our home games to win our section [title], so this was a good first step toward that."

Behind Waltenbaugh's 19-point performance, the Spartans (5-0, 2- 0) played a hard-fought fourth quarter to top the Warriors, 60-55.

"We're still a young team, but we're excited about the win," Hempfield coach Jim Nesser said. "We played well and we did enough to win. It was a fun game."

After taking a 41-39 lead into the fourth quarter, the Spartans trailed Penn-Trafford by three points late in the game. Hempfield, though, quickly rallied with an 8-1 run, which included five points from Waltenbaugh, a 6-foot-5 forward.

"We really stepped it up offensively and defensively during the final three or four minutes of the game," Nesser said. "We didn't do a good job rebounding but we found a way to win in the final minutes."

Junior point guard Tyler Handlan followed Waltenbaugh in scoring with 12 points, while freshman guard Kason Harrell and junior guard/ forward James Lawrence each chipped in with 10 each for the Spartans. Corey Stanford led the Warriors with 15 points, while Andy Abreu added 13.

"It's still one game," Nesser said. "We have a long haul to go. It's not how you start [the season] but how you finish it is what matters."

Before beating Penn-Trafford, Hempfield began its season with victories against Belle Vernon Area, McKeesport Area and Penn Hills, respectively. The Spartans also won, 61-52, at Norwin Tuesday night in another Section 1-AAAA game.

The Spartans enter the holiday week tied with undefeated Connellsville Area (5-0, 2-0) at the top of the section standings.

"We have to do a better job rebounding," Nesser said. "I like our progress and we've improved defensively, but our rebounding is not where it needs to be. We have to get better and it's all about effort.

"Our rebounding and defense is there but it's not consistent. We might not be a great rebounding team. …

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