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West Mifflin's Maha comfortable staying close to home

| Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, 11:00 p.m.
Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For the Daily News
West Mifflin's Ryan Maha tries to work around South Fayette's Evan Bonnaure during the second period of the WPIAL Class AAA playoff game Feb. 19, 2013, at Baldwin.

Despite receiving interest from some of the top academic institutions in the Northeast, a short drive down the road was all the convincing Ryan Maha needed to make his college choice.

The West Mifflin senior standout for the Titans' basketball team had offers from MIT, Johns Hopkins and Pitt-Johnstown with interest from Cornell and Colombia, but after taking a visit to Carnegie Mellon, his mind was made up.

“The No. 1 thing, what's such a surprise, was how different their campus was compared to everybody else's,” Maha said. “How diverse it was, how much different it was. … It was almost like a different world and I was looking for something like that based off what I want to do in the future, and it just really stood out.”

The guard and four-year starter for the Titans will join the Tartans, who despite finishing 6-19 overall and 3-11 in the University Athletic Association last season, have a tradition of success.

Not only did Maha find CMU to be a good fit off the court, but the coaching staff and team roster stood out to him as well.

“Coach (Tony) Wingen is a great guy. … Kind of visiting the guys and going down and watching practice, it was kind of like that feeling where you know I belong here,” Maha said. “I could see myself on the court, I could see myself going to class with these guys, hanging out with these guys.”

At 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, Maha averaged just under 20 points per game for West Mifflin last season. According to his dad, West Mifflin coach Lance Maha, Ryan's a versatile guard with strong ball-handling and shooting skills.

“I would say he's versatile,” Lance Maha said. “I think that's the thing Carnegie Mellon liked about him, that he can play the one and the two (guard positions) because he shoots it well, but he can handle it also. ... But especially on the offensive end of the floor, he plays off his ability to shoot the ball.”

Before he begins his collegiate career at Carnegie Mellon, Maha still has games left to be played at West Mifflin, where he hopes to improve on the team's 16-6 (10-2 WPIAL Section 4-AAA) record and first-round loss to South Fayette from last season.

According to Ryan Maha, the Titans have numerous goals this season, just like every season, that they will try and accomplish one at a time.

“Our first goal is to always make the playoffs, then we want to win the section, then we want to go to the WPIAL championship and win that, then we always want to go to the state playoffs,” he said. “We kind of have a progression here.”

Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.

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