Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Trojans' run comes to an end

by on March 19, 2017 12:39 AM

IRWIN — Every story comes to an end, and Saturday afternoon, the Saltsburg Trojans came to the last page of theirs.

The Trojans fell behind quickly and were never able to catch up in a 74-34 loss to Monessen in a PIAA Class 1A boys’ basketball quarterfinal-round game at Norwin High School.

Saltsburg (26-2) won Heritage Conference and District 6 championships during a memorable run in which the Trojans advanced farther than any other team in the program’s history.

 “It’s the best feeling, going on that run, but it coming to an end is hard,” Saltsburg’s Nick Porter said. “We made history, and we’re happy about that, but we wanted to go to Hershey, so it’s definitely upsetting. It’s very hard after working as hard as we did throughout the years to get here.”

Even though the Trojans felt prepared to take on the Greyhounds, they couldn’t keep up with their athleticism, struggled against their full-court press and were held to a season-low in points.

“We watched them on film, but you can’t teach speed, you can’t teach quickness, and they were definitely faster than what they seemed like on film,” Saltsburg coach Donnie Stitt said. “They just jumped the gun. … They’re a powerhouse program, and they’re quick. We just couldn’t handle it.”

Monessen (22-7), the WPIAL champion,  moved on to play District 10 champ Kennedy Catholic in the state semifinals Monday at a site and time to be determined.

Saltsburg beat Vincentian Academy in the first round of the state playoffs and crushed Johnsonburg in the second round for its first-ever trip to the PIAA quarterfinals. The Trojans and Monessen were the last two public-school teams remaining in the Class 1A bracket entering the weekend.

Saltsburg had a huge crowd following them throughout the state tournament, Saturday being no different.

“They made the community proud, they made the school proud, but they should just be proud of themselves,” Stitt said. “From elementary school the whole way up, they’ve been playing for this moment, and nobody should hang their heads. Obviously, it’s a sad locker room, but everybody should be proud of themselves, and as the coach, I’m very proud of them. They did everything I always wanted them to do and they should hold their heads high.”

The Trojans turned the ball over 18 times in the first half, leading to a plethora of Monessen points.

The Greyhounds opened the game on an 11-2 run and then went on a 17-0 run spanning the end of the first quarter into the middle of the second to give them a 28-7 lead with 4:39 left in the first half.

Saltsburg trailed 19-7 after one quarter and 39-16 after two.

“We were still in it in the first quarter and midway through the second, but shots didn’t fall, and we couldn’t handle the pressure,” Stitt said. “That was the difference.”

It didn’t help that the Trojans shot 32 percent from the floor. After putting on a clinic in its last game with 16 3-pointers, Saltsburg went just 2-for-11 from behind the arc Saturday.

Monessen shot 45 percent from the floor and scored a lot of easy points in transition.

Jaden Altomore led all scorers with 26 points, and Justice Rice added 21 points for the Greyhounds. Jaron Youngblood scored eight, and Cory Fleming chipped in seven.

Porter scored a team-high 13 points for Saltsburg, and Dan Shirley finished one point shy of a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds. 

“We knew they were going to be big and athletic, but we didn’t expect them to be that fast,” Porter said. “The tenacity they brought to the game was incredible.”

The Greyhounds held a 58-26 lead after three quarters and enforced the mercy rule in the fourth quarter at 41 points, 69-28.

When the Trojans made their way out of the locker room well after the game, there were mixed emotions — sad that it was over, but glad that it happened.

And despite the lopsided loss Saturday, the Saltsburg run will go down as a historic one. The Trojans’ six seniors, who have been playing together since elementary school, will get to take the memories of the dominant season with them.

“We’ll always remember this,” Porter said. “This is what we’ve been waiting for since we were in third grade.”

“Any loss stinks,” Stitt said, “but if you lose in the Elite 8 and you’re one of the last two public schools in Class A, we’re happy.”

 

 

 

At Saint Francis University

2017 PIAA District 6 Champs Saltsburg

James J. Nestor / Indiana Gazettebitrate 16123 kb/sheight 1080duration 00:02:55.10fps 23.98width 1920originaldate 2017-03-03 06:43:06Post Game interview with Saltsburg #2 Jordan BoothPost Game interview with Saltsburg #2 Jordan Booth

2017 PIAA District 6 Champs

Carly Krouse / Indiana Gazette

James J. Nestor / Indiana Gazette bitrate 15800 kb/sheight 1080duration 00:01:26.06fps 29.97width 1920originaldate 2017-03-03 05:09:52Post Game interview with Saltsburg #13 Dan ShirleyPost Game interview with Saltsburg #13 Dan Shirley

2017 PIAA District 6 Champs

Carly Krouse / Indiana Gazette

James J. Nestor / Indiana Gazette bitrate 15612 kb/sheight 1080duration 00:00:59.90fps 29.97width 1920originaldate 2017-03-03 05:11:02Post Game interview with Saltsburg #10 Frankie PlowmanPost Game interview with Saltsburg #10 Frankie Plowman

2017 PIAA District 6 Champs

Carly Krouse / Indiana Gazette

James J. Nestor / Indiana Gazette bitrate 15818 kb/sheight 1080duration 00:01:27.64fps 29.97width 1920originaldate 2017-03-03 05:08:19Post Game interview with Saltsburg #14 Nick Porter Post Game interview with Saltsburg #14 Nick Porter

2017 PIAA District 6 Champs

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James J. Nestor / Indiana Gazette bitrate 15839 kb/sheight 1080duration 00:01:32.07fps 29.97width 1920originaldate 2017-03-03 05:06:41Post Game interview with Saltsburg Coach Donnie StittPost Game interview with Saltsburg Coach Donnie Stitt

2017 PIAA District 6 Champs

Carly Krouse / Indiana Gazette

James J. Nestor / Indiana Gazette bitrate 16047 kb/sheight 1080duration 00:02:37.29fps 29.97width 1920originaldate 2017-03-03 05:05:00Heritage Conference Championship 2017 Saltsburg vs Ligonier Valley Heritage Conference Championship 2017

Saltsburg vs Ligonier Valley bitrate 16211 kb/sheight 1080duration 00:02:44.84fps 23.98width 1920originaldate 2017-02-11 07:47:08Heritage Conference Championship 2017 Homer-Center vs West Shamokin Heritage Conference Championship 2017 Homer-Center vs West Shamokin bitrate 16170 kb/sheight 1080duration 00:02:04.80fps 23.98width 1920originaldate 2017-02-11 07:48:46Heritage Conference Championship Post Game Interview with Saltsburg #14 Nick Porter Heritage Conference Championship 2017

Saltsburg vs Ligonier Valley Post Game Interview with Saltsburg #14 Nick Porter bitrate 15825 kb/sheight 1080duration 00:01:36.38fps 29.97width 1920originaldate 2017-02-11 07:42:16Heritage Conference Championship Post Game Interview with Ligonier Valley Coach Don StittHeritage Conference Championship 2017

Saltsburg vs Ligonier Valley Post Game Interview with Saltsburg Coach Don Stittbitrate 16095 kb/sheight 1080duration 00:02:59.33fps 29.97width 1920originaldate 2017-02-11 07:36:52Heritage Conference Championship Post Game Interview with Ligonier Valley Coach Todd HarperHeritage Conference Championship 2017

Saltsburg vs Ligonier Valley Post Game Interview with Ligonier Valley coach Todd Hardperbitrate 16149 kb/sheight 1080duration 00:03:00.93fps 29.97width 1920originaldate 2017-02-11 07:39:50Heritage Conference Championship Post Game Interview with Saltsburg #10 Frank PlowmanHeritage Conference Championship 2017

Saltsburg vs Ligonier Valley

Post Game Interview with Saltsburg #10 Frank Plowmanbitrate 15904 kb/sheight 1080duration 00:01:56.03fps 29.97width 1920originaldate 2017-02-11 07:44:37Heritage Conference Championship Post Game Interview with West Shamokin Coach Frank NagyHeritage Conference Championship 2017 Homer-Center vs West Shamokin Post Game Interview with West Shamokin Coach Frank Nagy bitrate 16185 kb/sheight 1080duration 00:03:54.47fps 29.97width 1920originaldate 2017-02-11 07:31:59Heritage Conference Championship Post Game Interview with West Shamokin #12 Andrea Orlosky and #5 Olivia FusaroHeritage Conference Championship 2017 Homer-Center vs West Shamokin Post Game Interview with West Shamokin #12 Andrea Orlosky and #5 Olivia Fusarobitrate 16143 kb/sheight 1080duration 00:03:13.00fps 29.97width 1920originaldate 2017-02-11 07:27:22Post Game Interview with Homer Center Coach Topm LasherHeritage Conference Championship 2017 Homer-Center vs West Shamokin Post Game Interview with Homer Center Coach Topm Lasherbitrate 16102 kb/sheight 1080duration 00:02:30.25fps 29.97width 1920originaldate 2017-02-11 08:11:37bitrate 10273 kb/sheight 1080duration 00:05:36.09fps 29.97width 1440originaldate 2017-03-19 01:17:57bitrate 16089 kb/sheight 1080duration 00:02:54.91fps 29.97width 1920originaldate 2017-03-18 22:30:29

 



Carly Krouse is a sports writer for The Indiana Gazette.
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