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Mt. Pleasant boys hope to get up and down the court this season

| Monday, Dec. 9, 2013, 12:21 a.m.
Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier
Dante Porter is expected to be a key contributor for the Mt. Pleasant boys basketball team this season.

Tony Splendore's coaching strategy for the Mt. Pleasant boys basketball team this season can be broken down quite simply.

Run.

Run.

Run some more.

Splendore believes moving the ball up and down the court will be the team's strong suit this season.

“We want to change the tempo of our game,” Splendore said. “It all starts with rebounding. We have nice overall size and we want to use it to control the boards.

“We want to play solid defense and then look to push the ball up the court and come up with some easy baskets.”

Splendore has five players back who saw significant playing time last season, including returning starters Ryan Gumbita, Luke Liprando and Marcus Malara.

All three are seniors and will play vital roles in Mt. Pleasant's offense.

The 6-foot-4 Gumbita recently was moved to point guard.

“He can see over top of the defenses,” Splendore said. “Ryan's strong with the basketball, protects it well and is a good outside shooter. He has a lot of weapons.

“Being a quarterback on the football team, he always had the ball in his hands, and we're happy with the results of the switch.”

Liprando is a 6-1 forward, but according to Splendore, he plays much bigger.

“He's a strong inside player,” Splendore said. “He's deceiving. He plays like he's 6-4 or 6-5.”

At 6-3, Malara is another strong force inside and will line up at center.

“He's a different kind of player around the basket,” Splendore said. “He has very nice inside moves, and he's very good up and under the basket. Marcus is very strong on the weak side also.”

Seniors Dante Porter (6-1, forward) and Mitch Matlas (6-1, guard) will complete the starting five.

Senior Nick Antonishen, juniors Matt Johnson, Zac D'Amico and Luke Luckert are expected to see plenty of playing time, as well.

Mt. Pleasant will compete in Section 3-AAA, along with Derry, Greensburg Salem, Laurel Highlands, Southmoreland, Uniontown and Yough.

“The section is pretty wide open in my opinion,” Splendore said. “Last year, we made the playoffs and went 13-9 after we won three games the previous season.

“That's something we can build on. But in this section, we can't take anyone for granted.”

Mt. Pleasant plays at Highlands in an exhibition game Monday.

Dave Stofcheck is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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