Like many high school teams, the Union Scotties like to consider themselves a “family.”
When these Scotties say it, though, they really mean it.
It was a family affair for Union at Giant Center on Friday afternoon as a handful of players with family ties from the small-knit community in Lawrence County helped the Scotties bring home their first PIAA championship in program history. Union pitched a fourth-quarter shutout to take down District 4 third-place finisher Lourdes Regional with a 46-29 victory in the PIAA Class 1A title game, and sophomore guard Kylie Fruehstorfer led the team with 19 points, including five 3-pointers.
Her older sister, senior Kayla Fruehstorfer, added a 3-pointer of her own for some late-game insurance, finishing with five points and five rebounds in the Scotties’ groundbreaking win. And to top it all off, their father, John, is an assistant coach on the team.
“It’s just a phenomenal feeling — not only as a coach but obviously as a dad — to see them [win the title],” John Fruehstorfer said. “Basketball is our family. We’re basketball year-round. We built a court in our backyard, we go to AAU together — we live, eat and sleep basketball. Jen, my wife, does the stats.
“Basketball is our life, really.”
As her father described it, Kylie Fruehstorfer started playing the sport as an accident in second grade when Kayla’s fourth grade team was short on players. Kylie stepped in to help, and she wound up scoring all four points in the team’s 4-0 win.
The rest, as they say, was history.
“I looked at my wife, and I said, ‘Hey, these two might be pretty good. We might want to look into this,’” John Fruehstorfer said. “They both hit a lot of big shots this year. … The younger one, Kylie, she really was feeling her stroke out there [on Friday]. She’s had a few games like that this year.”
Fast forward eight years later, and Kylie finished second on the team with an average of 12.5 points per game — and she consistently elevated her game as the season went on. The sharp-shooting sophomore finished with a game-high 20 points in a 52-35 win against Aquinas Academy in the WPIAL championship game at Petersen Events Center before leading all scorers again in the state title game.
“It’s amazing. I wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else,” Kylie said about sweeping this year’s championships alongside her older sister. “It’s kind of sad that she’s going to leave, but we ended it on good terms.”
Along with the Fruehstorfer family, Union also featured the Preuhs sisters — senior Kendall Preuhs and sophomore Mia Preuhs. Mia is the star pitcher on the Scotties’ reigning WPIAL champion softball team, and both players saw significant minutes while making key contributions during Union’s run to the PIAA basketball crown. Mia tallied five points and four rebounds in the state title win.
“Mia is a stud pitcher,” John Fruehstorfer said. “She plays volleyball, she plays softball and basketball. And she’s great at all three. And her sister [Kendall] was a starter on the volleyball team.
“At a small school like this, they play everything. … I’ll tell you what, it’s a great community.”
A dream day for Dori
For the first time in more than three decades, Dori Oldaker wasn’t a basketball coach this season. But wouldn’t you know, the five-time PIAA champ still ended the season in Hershey at the state championships.
Saturday was a special day for Oldaker, who a year earlier guided Mt. Lebanon to a PIAA Class 6A runner-up finish before stepping down after the season. A year later, Oldaker was at Giant Center to watch two of her favorite teams play for state titles: Blackhawk and South Fayette. Oldaker is a Blackhawk graduate who coached the Cougars to a pair of PIAA titles, while daughters Taylor (a junior) and Ryan (a freshman) both play for South Fayette.
“It’s just as exciting, just as fun. It’s still nerve wracking, but I’m living a dream right now,” said Oldaker, who made the trip with her husband, Mark.
Mark Oldaker and Blackhawk coach Steve Lodovico are close friends. Lodovico actually asked Dori if she would go out with Mark on a date years ago. And as Dori said, “the rest is history.” Lodovico was even in the Oldakers’ wedding.
Added Dori, “It is really cool. It’s so surreal. If we win, we win. If we don’t, it’s still pretty awesome.”
Both Blackhawk and South Fayette came up short in their championship bids against teams from the Philadelphia Catholic League. Blackhawk fell to Lansdale Catholic, 53-45, and South Fayette was defeated by Archbishop Wood, 61-54. Taylor Oldaker scored nine points in the loss.
Pitt standout watches brother win title
The last time Nelly Cummings was at Giant Center, his Lincoln Park team was thumped by Neumann-Goretti in the PIAA Class 3A championship. When Cummings returned to the arena last week, he watched Lincoln Park take on the same opponent, only the result was much more favorable.
Cummings, who a week earlier helped Pitt to a pair of NCAA tournament wins, was in the house to watch Lincoln Park defeat Neumann-Goretti, 62-58, in a classic PIAA Class 4A final. Cummings’ brother, Brandin “Beebah” Cummings, is a junior at Lincoln Park and Pitt commit who scored a team-high 25 points.
“Seeing my brother and these guys do their thing is special. I lost my last game of high school to this same team,” Nelly said of a 89-58 loss to Neumann-Goretti his senior season in 2017.
Nelly Cummings scored 37 points in that loss and finished his career with 2,411, which ranks seventh in WPIAL history. Through three seasons, younger brother Brandin has 1,482 points, which means the brothers have combined for close to 4,000 points.
Watching Beebah win a state title put a smile on his older brother’s face.
“Nothing better than that,” Nelly said. “Getting the chance to see my brother do what he does, it’s just a special feeling. I’m so proud of him and so happy for this team.”
Lincoln Park one of the nation’s best?
It’s been nine years since a WPIAL or City League boys basketball team finished the season nationally ranked, but it would come as no surprise if Lincoln Park does it this season.
As they say, to be the best you have to beat the best, and Lincoln Park did that when it topped a Neumann-Goretti squad that came into the game ranked No. 20 in the country by MaxPreps and No. 21 by USA Today. Lincoln Park finished the season 30-1.
Count Lincoln Park’s Brandin Cummings among those who think the Leopards have done enough to carve out a spot in the national rankings. The last local team to finish the season ranked was the great 2013-14 New Castle team which went 31-0.
“For sure. I think we’re a top team,” Cummings said. “I don’t think there’s 20 teams in the country better than us. I’m just saying, we’re up there.”
Imani Christian won its first PIAA title last week, but it wasn’t the first state gold for one of its coaches.
Gerald “Scoot” Warrick is in his second season as an assistant coach at Imani Christian. He’s also a 2005 Penn Hills graduate who was a starter on the Indians’ 2004 team that beat Parkland, 57-48, in the PIAA Class 4A championship. Warrick had two points and 10 rebounds in the win.
Back at the Giant Center for the first time since that triumph, Warrick helped guide Imani Christian to an 81-64 win against Berlin Brothersvalley in the PIAA Class 1A championship.
“It feels amazing. As soon as we walked into the arena, I was like, ‘Wow, I’m back,’ not as a player but as a coach this time,” said Warrick, who said the feeling of winning gold was even better as a coach than it was as a player. “We’re actually in the same locker room that we won the state championship. Walked the same tunnel. Walked the same hallways. It just feels amazing to come back and actually teach the young men how to become better off the court and on the court, as well. It’s a great feeling. It’s surreal. I can’t believe it.”
After finishing his college career at Point Park, Warrick played 11 seasons professionally, a run that included stops in Serbia and China, and another as a member of the world famous Harlem Wizards.
Don’t be surprised if another Gerald Warrick makes an impact as a high school player in Western Pennsylvania down the road. Warrick’s son, Gerald IV, is in fourth grade.
“He’s actually pretty good,” Dad said, “so maybe he’ll get a state championship one day, too.”