Quaker Valley boys look to continue building in season’s second half
By Doug Gulasy
Published: Wednesday, January 2, 2013, 8:57 p.m.
Updated: Monday, February 11, 2013
The first half of the season is all but over for the Quaker Valley boys basketball team.
Now the Quakers will gear up for their biggest tests.
Quaker Valley (5-3, 0-2) will begin the meat of its section schedule Friday night with a game at Avonworth.
While the Quakers played a nonsection game Wednesday against Quigley Catholic and have out-of-section contests against Burgettstown and Highlands remaining, the bulk of their games will come against Section 6-AA foes.
“I think we're at a place where we've sort of figured out our personality,” coach Mike Mastroianni said. “Our defense is getting much better. I think our issue is going to be keeping consistency on the offensive end, and that might come from different people on different nights. But we are getting better.”
Mastroianni liked what he saw offensively in a 71-47 victory over Carrick Dec. 27 in the Ambridge Holiday Classic.
In one of Quaker Valley's strongest shooting performances of the season, the team hit on 57 percent of its attempts. Junior Qadir Taylor led the way with 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting, but seniors Nelson Westwood (14 points, eight assists, 7-of-9 shooting) and Micah Glenn (12 points, 5-of-9 shooting) also had notable offensive performances.
“We've been waiting for a game where we had a better perimeter game, and I think that was probably our best game from the perimeter,” Mastroianni said. “We had a number of different guys make (3-pointers) for us in that game, and we got into the flow early.”
Because Freedom dropped out of the Ambridge tournament, Quaker Valley had to find another game to play over the holiday break. The Quakers found a spot in the Moon Holiday Classic when a team dropped out there.
Quaker Valley couldn't keep the momentum going, falling to Perry, 58-48. Senior Burke Moser scored 15 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, but the Quakers couldn't overcome a slow start against the Commodores.
As the team prepares for the second half of the season, Mastroianni is looking to improve his players' performance in the first quarter. The Quakers have trailed after the first quarter in half of their games so far, and their record is 2-2 in those contests.
“That's definitely something we're working on,” Mastroianni said. “There's different things we're trying to do to help them get ready, get into the game a little earlier (and) feel comfortable with our style of play early so we don't dig holes and have to play from behind so much.”
Mastroianni said he did like his team's ability to battle back from early deficits, as the Quakers rallied to beat Burrell and Bishop Canevin and took the lead late against Sto-Rox before eventually falling short. But he would like to see improved consistency early in games.
“If we can get consistent early and have that fight in us, we can start to make progress as a team,” he said.
With Westwood back in the fold after missing three games earlier this season with a head injury, Mastroianni is starting to get a better feel for his team.
And while there are still some things he'd like to see cleared up as time goes on — with offensive consistency at the top of the list— he said he likes the strides the young team made in the first part of the season.
“I thought our Carrick game we had more continuity,” he said. “A lot of the younger guys got big minutes early in the season (because of) the injuries (and) guys we had missing. They were getting better, and that's what we're hoping for. That's going to be a work in progress, and we're going to continue to get better in that area — that's for sure.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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