Senior guards setting the tone for Brentwood boys' basketball team
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Looking over the Brentwood boys' varsity basketball roster, it's hard not to notice that all five seniors this year are listed as guards.
Naturally, seniority is associated with experience, but head coach Dave Mislan says that's not necessarily the case this year.
“We have five senior guards,” Mislan said. “Out of those five, the only one that was a starter with experience tore his ACL in football.”
Justin Vickless would be the team's top returning starter if it wasn't for a knee injury that shortened his 2013 football season and will cost him his last year on the hardwood.
Another freak injury sidelined Andrew Stofesky for most of last year when he fell to the court going for a rebound and shattered his wrist in his team's second game.
“He came back for the last couple games of the year just to get running,” Mislan said. “He basically missed his whole junior year.”
In his absence, Matt Yasko stepped in, providing stability at point guard and tenacity on defense.
“Definitely our best defender. The kid will run through a wall for the team,” Mislan said. “He'll do anything he's asked to do. He's a fantastic leader.”
Brentwood finished last season 14-11, losing in the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals to eventual WPIAL and PIAA champion Beaver Falls. While this team may be inexperienced compared to a year ago, the Spartans look to capture that same lightning in a bottle.
“Our expectations are the same every year. We expect to win,” Yasko said. “I don't go into a game expecting to lose.”
It's that mindset and the closeness of the seniors that resonates most with a younger team. Yasko, Stofesky, Jack Murano and Sean Cloonan set the tone at practice, and Mislan says that's where everything starts.
“They are the leaders of our team,” he said. “They are the nucleus of our team.”
The senior quartet complement one another nicely.
Yasko is the set-up man to Stofesky's precision shooting, while Murano and Cloonan provide a combination of defense and scoring ability coming off the bench.
“We know each other really well,” Stefosky said. “Everyone works as a team. We're smart. That's our game.”
Mislan, a guard on the 1989 Brentwood squad that went to the WPIAL and PIAA finals, knows there's room for improvement if the Spartans want to contend in Section 4-AA and earn another playoff berth this season.
True to his word as the fiery one, Yasko wasn't afraid to spell out expectations more clearly.
“Toward the end of the year I expect the same (as last year). I want to get back to the states, and the third round of the WPIAL playoffs,” Yasko said. “Last year was awesome, and I want to do it all over again and go farther.”
The Spartans opened the season with a 1-1 record in the Brentwood High Athletic Boosters' tipoff tournament.
Brentwood dropped its first game on opening night to Carrick, 44-43, before rebounding to edge South Park, 47-46, in the consolation round.
Against the Eagles, Yasko drew a foul driving to the basket as time expired and cooly hit both free throws with no time on the clock.
Stofesky paced the Spartans offensively versus South Park with 15 points.
Troy Elphinstone, Brentwood's 6-foot-6 junior center, was named to the all-tournament team. Elphinstone netted 12 points against Carrick, and followed up with an 11-point effort against South Park.
He also was credited with seven rebounds, two blocks, one assist and one steal in the two-day event.
Marc Wells, a junior forward, chipped in with eight points for the Spartans against Carrick, while Bill Madeja, also a junior forward, contributed nine points versus South Park.
Brentwood is scheduled to open section play Friday at home against Fort Cherry.
Justin Criado is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.