Quaker Valley boys hope to bounce back in PIAA playoffs
The Quaker Valley boys basketball team was living on the edge in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs.
The Quakers scored a 53-48 come-from-behind win over Riverside in the first round before holding on for a 62-61 win over Seton-La Salle in the quarterfinals.
Unfortunately for the Quakers, their luck ran out.
Quaker Valley erased a five-point halftime deficit — even taking the lead with a minute to go in regulation — before falling in overtime to Burrell, 43-32, in the WPIAL semifinals last week.
“It was two good teams playing a rematch from early in the season,” Quaker Valley coach Mike Mastroianni said. “We had a hard time shooting. We were under 25 percent from the field. To say we hard a rough time shooting and were still one or two possessions away from winning says a lot about the team.”
Qadir Taylor hit a 3-pointer on the Quakers' first possession to go up 3-0 before the Buccaneers went on a 8-2 run over the final four minutes to take the lead. Burrell kept control of the game in the first half, building a 15-10 lead before the break.
Back-to-back 3-pointers from Nelson Westwood and Jake Trovato started a 13-6 third-quarter run that gave the Quakers the lead. The big frame came at an expense though.
Burke Moser — who leads the team with 14.1 points per game and 8.8 rebounds per game — picked up his fourth foul with 1:40 to go in the third that sent him to the bench. The senior would be used sparingly the rest of the game.
“That definitely effected our play,” Mastroianni said. “But in the same sense it was a testament to the rest of the team being able to weather through it and still have the opportunity to win.”
Quaker Valley's two-point lead turned into a one-point Burrell advantage after a Mitch Pollino 3-pointer. The Buccaneers would regain possession and try to drain the clock but an ill-advised pass led to a Taylor steal and layup to give the Quakers the lead with a minute left in regulation.
Moser picked up his fifth foul of the game with 43 seconds to go. The foul sent Matt Hess to the line and he hit one of two free throws to tie the game at 30-30.
“If you would have told me before the game that we would have held them to 30 points in regulation, I would of taken it,” Mastroianni said. “You would think that would have meant a win.”
The Quakers took the lead early in the extra frame as Chris Conlan connected on a pair of free throws. But Burrell scored the final 13 points of the game for the win.
Westwood led the team with eight points. Taylor added seven.
It was the second meeting between the Quakers and Buccaneers, with Quaker Valley getting the better of Burrell, 53-39, at the season-opening Quaker Valley Tournament on Dec. 8.
While the loss to the eventual WPIAL runner-up Buccaneers brought the Quakers run through the WPIAL playoffs to an end, Quaker Valley still has the PIAA postseason to look forward to.
“We have 10 days in between games,” Mastroianni said. “It will sting for a few days. We are in the state tournament that only a few teams get into. It is a great reward for the season.”
The team will look to replicate the success if found it last season's state tournament.
After falling to Sto-Rox, 56-55, in the WPIAL quarterfinals, the Quakers rebounded and made a run to the 2012 PIAA semifinals.
“Some of the guys on the team were playing last year or were on the bench,” Mastroianni said. “They understand the experience and the game prep and what it takes to win. There is not a bad team in the state playoffs. There are no off nights.”
The Quakers will face District 10 runner-up Lakeview in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs. The Sailors are led by senior guard Dalton Boggs, who has more than 1,000 points during his career. The team also relies heavily on three other seniors — 6-foot-3 guard Andrew Fowler, 6-2 center Coty Gander and 6-6 forward Casey Greggs.
Lakeview fell to West Middlesex, 71-65, in a five-overtime thriller in the District 10 title game. Boggs led Lakeview with 25 points and Greggs added 16. The Big Reds accounted for three of the Sailors' four losses this season.
Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. Saturday at Slippery Rock University's Morrow Field House.
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.