West Xtra: Experienced Montour savors strong season

BOYS BASKETBALL


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During the months leading up to basketball season, the senior members of the Montour High School boys basketball team were ready to get back to business.

Unfinished business, that is.

After leaving Penn State's Bryce Jordan Center last season as the state's Class AAA runner-up for the second year in a row, veteran Spartans were eager to get back to winning and looked forward to yet another successful season.

"We had a little bit of a chip on our shoulders," said senior shooting guard Kevin Scuilli, a Robinson resident. "We knew what it would take to win big games, but more importantly, we knew we weren't bringing everyone back and would have to make a change.

"We knew we would have to spread out, and we understood that we would have to come out and play hard to win and not accept anything less."

Montour (21-4) has stayed true to that course during the regular season and three games into the postseason. The Spartans defeated No. 2-seed Mars, 61-52, in the semifinals Tuesday and will meet Chartiers Valley (22-3) for the championship 9 p.m. Friday at Palumbo Center. The victory against Mars gives Montour a 13-game winning streak.

The third-seeded Spartans had already earned a PIAA berth following a 59-40 win against Thomas Jefferson last Friday in the quarterfinals.

Fifth-year coach Adam Kaufman attributes a lot of Montour's success this season to his seniors.

"We lost a lot of talent from last year and we didn't want people telling us we weren't going to be as good," said senior forward Justin Hill, who also lives in Robinson. "We [as seniors] wanted to make an impact on this program.

"Those last two state championship games left a bad taste in our mouths."

Kaufman's seniors have gathered 84 career victories, contributed in winning a WPIAL championship two years ago against South Fayette and helped the Spartans reach the state title game the past two seasons.

After losing to Hampton in the WPIAL semifinals last year, Montour advanced to the state playoffs and lost to Philadelphia's Neumann-Goretti in the title game for the second year in a row.

"No doubt, this is a very successful group," Kaufman said. "This is a very tight-knit group that doesn't have a lot of egos. They play unselfish and well together. They basically know everything I'm going to say before I say it and can basically coach themselves. They've been a pleasure to coach."

Senior point guard Devin Wilson, the all-time leading receiver in WPIAL football and two-sport star, has been Montour's catalyst by averaging 17 points a game. Against Thomas Jefferson, Wilson scored 20 points with 10 rebounds and nine assists.

"Devin has just been unbelievable," Kaufman said. "He's basically put the team on his shoulders. He knows this is his last shot to go out and win another medal. He's focused and a driven leader."

Scuilli, who surpassed the 1,000-point career plateau this season, is a sharpshooting guard and averages 13 points a game.

"The thing about Kevin that people might not understand is that he's hit so many big shots," Kaufman said. "No one sees the time that he puts into being a better shooter."

Wilson, Scuilli and Hill as well as senior guard/forward Robert Julian, who scored 18 points against Thomas Jefferson, and junior guard/forward Kyle Kutchman make up Kaufman's starting five. Senior forward Lamontae Harrison, a Sto-Rox transfer, and senior guard Justin Crytzer also add a veteran presence to Montour's bench.

"Kevin and Devin have been starting and contributing for four years," Kaufman said. "Rob Julian and Justin Hill hadn't played a whole lot until this year. We had really good players in front of them last year, so this has been their first real opportunity."

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