HERSHEY, Pa. — They say defense wins championships, and the Union Scotties are living proof.
Playing in a PIAA title game for the first time in program history, Union (23-6) showed no signs of nerves or jitters Friday under the bright lights at Giant Center. Taking on Lourdes Regional (22-8), the third-place finisher from District 4, the Scotties controlled the game from start to finish to capture their first state title. Led by sharp-shooting sophomore Kylie Fruehstorfer, the Scotties jumped to an early lead and never looked back, shutting out the Red Raiders for the entire fourth quarter en route to a 46-29 win in the PIAA Class 1A championship.
“I think we just live in the moment and enjoy it,” Union coach Rob Nogay said about his team’s poise under pressure. “You may never be back here again. … It’s an unbelievable time to be a Union fan.”
Fruehstorfer led all scorers with 19 points to go with five assists, while 6-foot junior Kelly Cleaver added 12 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals. Fruehstorfer converted five 3-pointers, including four in the first half to give the Scotties an early spark.
“I just think of it as another game,” Fruehstorfer said. “I know this is a big game for everyone, but I just played my game and hoped for the best.”
Union’s turnaround over the past four seasons under Nogay has been nothing short of remarkable. After posting a combined record of 14-112 in the six seasons prior to Nogay’s hire in 2019, the Scotties finished 5-17 in his debut season and 10-11 in Year 2. Union then finished 22-3 a year ago while reaching the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA quarterfinals, and now the Scotties completed their transformation by capturing WPIAL and PIAA titles in Nogay’s fourth year at the helm.
“It’s a great group of kids. It’s a great community,” Nogay said. “It’s a small school. We’ve got a really good group of kids right now, and they’re really hard workers. And the work is paying off for them.”
After starting the game with back-to-back three-point plays, Cleaver had no problem deferring to Fruehstorfer and the rest of her teammates while still finding several other ways to affect the game. Lourdes began to double-team Cleaver nearly every time she touched the ball after her hot start, and Cleaver had no issues adapting to the added attention by shifting her focus from scoring to facilitating.
“It seemed like every time I put the ball on the floor, I had 10 people on me,” Cleaver said. “I know my team. I know they can shoot. I know they’re going to step up and hit big shots, and that’s all we needed today.”
Paityn Moyer started out hot with two corner 3-pointers for the Red Raiders, giving Lourdes an early 8-6 lead. But it didn’t take long for Union to regain control of the game, as a buzzer-beating jump shot by Cleaver gave the Scotties a 14-8 lead going into the second.
After Moyer hit another 3 to cut Union’s lead to four, the Scotties responded with back-to-back 3s by Mia Preuhs and Fruehstorfer to stretch their lead to 10 late in the first half. Union took a 26-19 lead into the break, with Fruehstorfer knocking down four of her five 3-pointers in the opening half.
“Honestly, I was nervous, but when the [opening] tip went up, I knew it was time to play,” Fruehstorfer said. “My shots were going in today, so my confidence was up.”
Preuhs then opened the third quarter with a steal and score in transition before Moyer trimmed the Scotties’ lead to 28-24 with her fourth 3-pointer of the game. Fruehstorfer quickly answered with another 3-pointer, and Union took a 35-29 lead into the fourth.
Fruehstorfer’s older sister Kayla joined the fun with a 3-pointer to make it a 40-29 early in the final quarter, and the Scotties pitched a fourth-quarter shutout to run away with the win and the PIAA championship trophy that came with it.
“That’s been our M.O. all season long. We get after teams defensively,” Nogay said. “I couldn’t be happier right now to be a part of that community and school.”