Quaker Valley boys basketball enters season less experienced than past
This year's Quaker Valley boys basketball team will look quite a bit different than the version that advanced to the PIAA semifinals a season ago.
That tends to happen when seven seniors — including the team's top four scorers — graduate, leaving a more inexperienced core behind.
“It'll definitely be a transition season only because this will probably be the youngest team that we have started in terms of experience over the last five years,” Quaker Valley coach Mike Mastroianni said. “I think a lack of experience on some of the guys was due to the number of seniors we had last year. We felt that these guys were good enough and in any other year may have played younger, but our senior class last year was outstanding.”
The team's depth took another hit when juniors Jake Trovato and Kendall Luton, two potential rotation players, suffered injuries that will likely keep both out for the season. But Mastroianni believes his team has enough left to make its ninth straight WPIAL playoff appearance.
“The year before (last), we won 20 games,” Mastroianni said. “The year before that, we had won 20. Last year's group continued forward, and that's really what our goal is every year. We're trying to have a high level of expectations in our program and maximize our potential.”
This season, the Quakers will look to fourth-year seniors Burke Moser and Nelson Westwood to lead the team. Moser, who averaged 8.8 points per game a season ago, is the team's leading returning scorer.
Seniors Micah Glenn and Jack McGarry; juniors John Bernard, Winter Fondi, Christian Miller, Jack Stater and Qadir Taylor; and sophomores Chris Conlan and Tyler Garbee will also be “in the mix,” Mastroianni said, as the Quakers have the potential to go 10-12 players deep.
“It might be a few guys helping us (one night), and another night it might be a few different guys,” Mastroianni said. “I think as a coaching staff we understand that we have to be patient until they gain some of that valuable experience. But we have a lot of numbers ... (and) we're banking on (Moser's and Westwood's) experience to help us carry all the younger guys until they gain that valuable game experience.”
The Quakers will play some different opponents this season, as WPIAL realignment changed up Section 6. Carlynton, South Side Beaver and Sto-Rox joined the section, replacing Aliquippa, Beaver Falls and New Brighton.
Three of Quaker Valley's five losses came last season against Beaver Falls, the eventual WPIAL champion and PIAA runner-up in Class AA.
But the Quakers have plenty of history with Sto-Rox as well. The Vikings eliminated Quaker Valley in the WPIAL quarterfinals last season, with the Quakers returning the favor in the PIAA playoffs.
Mastroianni is looking forward to another competitive season, which will begin with a game against Cornell in the QV Boys Basketball Classic on Dec. 7.
“I think the combination of new players and the new section will definitely be a challenge for us,” he said. “We've played some of (our new section opponents) in the past, but any time you play teams in the section, the games are a different level of importance. But we're excited. We'll be built a little different this year than we were last year, but I think we have some new, exciting younger players. We're excited about our potential as a team.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.