Scotties Comforti dunks

Paul Brittain

Southmoreland junior Riley Comforti dunks during a recent practice.

Southmoreland boys basketball coach Frank Muccino hopes the Scotties’ improvement on the football field this season will translate to added success on the basketball court.

At least five basketball players were integral parts of the football team’s record-setting offense this fall.

Last year, the Scotties had no returning starters or lettermen, and won four games. Muccino said his team also realizes it let a playoff berth slip away with late-season losses to Brownsville, Beth-Center and Charleroi. Southmoreland also led section-champion Washington in the fourth quarter before losing that game as well.

“This is a feisty group, and they don’t like to lose,” Muccino said. “They’re competitive and hopefully, their football success rolls over (into basketball success).”

Though seven seniors graduated, the core of last year’s team was in the underclassmen. Seniors Cade Richter (5-11), Ronnie Robinson (5-9), Brett Glowacki (6-1) and Dalton Anderson (5-9) return with letters. Junior starter Riley Comforti (6-1) also started.

Junior Brandon Peterson (6-2) is a newcomer who played football and “can definitely help,” Muccino said.

Also expected to help is 5-11 sophomore Zach Cernuto, who established a seasonal passing record as the quarterback of the football team. Junior Patrick Nagy (6-0) will see playing time as well.

“We can compete but we’ve got work to do,” Muccino said. “This team is capable of competing in the section. We’ve got to come out ready to play every night because there are no easy games.”

Muccino is not unhappy about South Side Beaver and Burgettstown leaving the section because of the long trips to those sites. McGuffey is “a quality team” that dropped down from 4A to 3A, and Frazier joins the section to provide a natural rivalry for the Scotties.

“Washington is obviously the cream of the crop, Beth-Center has a good squad back, Brownsville and Charleroi are a lot like we are, and Frazier always has a hard-nosed and competitive group of kids,” Muccino said.

The Scottie mentor enters the season 10 victories away from the 100-win plateau. “Before I got here, we were two (playoff berths) for 20 (years),” Muccino said. “We’ve been to the playoffs six of nine seasons and if last year had broken right, we would have made it seven.”

Southmoreland opens the season in the Mount Pleasant Tip Off Tournament that honors the late Tom Traynor for his coaching leadership. The Scotties and Vikings will play the 100th game in their longtime rivalry on the opening night of the tournament. Southmoreland holds a 51-48 edge in the series, which began in 1965.

The Scotties will also compete again in the Charleroi Tournament during the Christmas and New Year’s break.

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