Pete Sirianni: Column by Where in the world is Union High School?

Mar. 16—Can anyone outside of Lawrence County find Union High School on a map?

The Union High boys and girls basketball teams are making deep runs in their respective PIAA Class 1A basketball tournaments. In what's become a yearly tradition, the Scotties from Lawrence County globetrot Pennsylvania under various names, mascots and hometowns.

This week was no different.

The Union boys headed up to PennWest Clarion University's renovated Tippin Gymnasium to play District 9-champion Elk County Catholic. Except you wouldn't know it by looking at their locker room door.

Each of the four teams in Tuesday's doubleheader had their own locker room denoted by a sign on the door with their school name and logo. "Union" was spelled correctly — let's give credit where credit is due — but the mascot was again screwed up. Instead of the Scottie logo or a big blue "U," the sign said "Knights" and "Damsels" above and below a letter "U" with the wrong colors.

Well, they were correct if the team playing was nearby Union High School in Rimersburg, Clarion County, whose boys programs are the Knights and its girls the Damsels.

In a postgame interview, coach Mark Stanley spoke about wanting to get back to another final four. When it was brought up there's some competition in his own gym, Stanley shot that down.

"That's not competition. We're very proud," Stanley said of the Union girls program. "You know what stinks? Every time we come here, they get our logo wrong. They put Union-Rimersburg. The PIAA should be embarrassed."

It's been a bubbling issue for years. On various websites ranging from the PIAA to the National Federal of High School Associations to MaxPreps, you'll find Lawrence County's team mixed up for their Rimersburg brethren. More than one planned video broadcast by NFHS, a pay-per-view service that holds exclusive video rights to some WPIAL and PIAA contests, showed the wrong gymnasium.

A previous Union boys basketball playoff game was delayed because referees drove to the wrong location, ending up in Clarion County with deer instead of Lawerence County with Pizza Joe's.

"We're representing the WPIAL and they put the wrong mascot," Stanley said. "People say that's chintzy. That's bull crap. We aren't — what are they? The Damsels in Distress? But I'm happy. They can call us whatever they want. We win."

Not to be outdone, the very smart people at NFHS Network showed up on Wednesday. The organization that charges fans $11.99 a month (or $79.99 a year) and is the only way to watch some regular-season and playoff games continues to get it wrong with Union. They listed Wednesday's PIAA Class 1A girls second-round game as a matchup between Northern Bedford (correct) and Union City (incorrect by about 90 miles. If you're going that way, say hi to my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Mike!).

Mistakes like this are how referees drive to the wrong school and delay tipoff times. It's how schools drive to the wrong gymnasium and delay proceedings. The Union girls nearly showed up late to their game, but that was because of a wreck on the turnpike and not their own inability to read MapQuest. Once there, Union (City?) was led by usual star Kelly Cleaver and a smothering defense in the 52-42 victory.

Both Union basketball teams are in the final eight in the state. No, not the Knights or Damsels or Union City or Union-Rimersburg.

The Union Scotties of Union Township in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. It's not that hard to get a name right.

The more they keep winning and driving all over the state, maybe word will get out.

(Pete Sirianni is the editor of the New Castle News. Email him at