Quaker Valley, Sewickley Academy teams prepare for WPIAL basketball playoffs
With the playoffs set to get under way this week, the Quaker Valley boys basketball team does not expect to do as well as last season, when it finished seventh in the WPIAL and reached the semifinals of the PIAA Class AA tournament, where it lost to Beaver Falls.
“We're much younger and are excited just to have made it,” coach Mike Mastroianni said. “How we prepare depends on when we play.
“If there's enough time, we'll schedule a scrimmage against a bigger school.”
Playoff pairings were announced Tuesday night, after this edition's deadline.
Senior Burke Moser, a 6-foot-3 guard-forward, has been Quaker Valley's top scorer with 14 points a game.
Mastroianni is encouraged by the return of junior guard Jake Trovato, who missed much of the regular season with a shoulder injury.
The Quakers have qualified for the WPIAL and PIAA playoffs twice in the past four years.
The Quaker Valley girls team expects to be without one of its top players when it makes it first playoff appearance in Class AAA after moving from Class AA this year.
Senior Rachel Smith will be out indefinitely after undergoing surgery for a nose injury.
“We don't have many players as it is,” coach Jim Dudas said. “With Rachel out, the next person has to step up and keep grinding it out.”
Senior Sierra Perlik leads the Quakers with about 19 points a game.
Smith has averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Playing injured before surgery, Smith scored 20 points and had 10 rebounds in a 68-54 victory over Moon last week.
“As long as she's allowed, Rachel is going to play,” Quaker Valley assistant coach Aimee Young said. “Nothing stops her.”
Junior Heather Peduzzi (11 points, six assists and six rebounds) and sophomore Kayla Foster (17 points and five rebounds) also excelled against Moon.
Foster made three 3-point shots.
With the win, Quaker Valley clinched second place in Section 5, which Dudas emphasized was a huge accomplishment.
Freshman Moriah Wigley has done well defensively.
“Moriah is aggressive and has really been picking up our complicated trapping system,” Dudas said.
Wigley, 14, expects some jitters in her first playoff game.
“I was in the soccer playoffs, but in basketball, there are fewer players,” she said. “You're noticed more.”
A lack of a standout player might be a problem for the Sewickley Academy boys team in the Class A playoffs, coach Win Palmer said.
“We had to learn how to compete without that one scorer,” he said. “It took until January to be comfortable (with that).”
Seven players have been top scorers in games this year — Jordan Milo, John O'Malley, Firas Termanini, Keenan Hickton, JP Bowell, Anthony Muscato and Ty Roberts.
Roberts, Barret Fowkes, O'Malley and Milo are top rebounders.
After a strong second half, Milo is counting on momentum carrying the Panthers in the playoffs.
“We're growing a lot as a team,” he said.
“(We have) good chemistry,” agreed Palmer, adding that the Panthers also are sound fundamentally.
It is the 11th straight year Sewickley Academy has qualified for the WPIAL playoffs.
“We have players who've been there, which is really going to help,” Hickton said.
Last year, the Panthers finished fifth in the WPIAL after losing to eventual champion Lincoln Park in the quarterfinals.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.