With all 5 starters contributing, Mt. Pleasant boys continue to roll
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Predicting who's going to lead the Mt. Pleasant boys basketball team in scoring on a given night is about as futile a task as predicting winter weather in Western Pennsylvania.
With five seniors in the starting lineup, the Vikings' scoring can come from anywhere, just not usually from a single source.
“I've coached teams where a boy was scoring 40 points a game and everybody else nothing,” Mt. Pleasant coach Tony Splendore said.
“I didn't think it was much fun.”
With Wednesday's last-second victory over Greensburg Salem, Mt. Pleasant (8-5, 5-1) won for the seventh time in its past eight games, relying on five seniors who average around 10 points per game.
“Our team isn't built for someone to score 20 or 30 points a game,” 6-foot-1 forward Luke Liprando said. “For us to win, we have to have everybody in the eight-to-14 range. That's how we're at our best.”
There are benefits, too, said 6-1 guard Mitch Matlas, whose layup as time expired delivered a 42-40 victory for the Vikings on Wednesday night.
“It doesn't put pressure on one or two players because we can all score,” Matlas said. “We don't have to rely on one person to take a big shot.”
Matlas leads the charge at 12.5 points per game. He's followed by Liprando at 11.5 and Ryan Gumbita at 11.0. Marcus Malara contributes 10 a game, Dante Porter eight.
The scoring pretty much eliminates any thoughts opposing coaches might have of running a box-and-one or triangle-and-two.
“With one kid scoring all the points, it makes it easier for your opponent,” Splendore said. “They can devise their defense around one player.”
Now Mt. Pleasant has to figure out how to have that happen all the time.
If there's one thing Splendore wants to fix, it's playing consistently for four quarters.
Splendore pointed to a 76-58 home loss to Section 3-AAA leader Uniontown (12-1, 6-0) on Jan. 10.
After Mt. Pleasant took an 18-9 lead, Uniontown scored 29 points in the second quarter and 22 more in the third to flip a nine-point deficit into a 20-point advantage.
“We need to play four strong quarters and not three or sometimes two,” said Matlas, whose team plays at Uniontown on Feb. 4.
Mt. Pleasant started the season wanting to push the pace, but a lack of depth squashed that plan.
Following a season-opening 75-52 loss to Norwin, the Vikings started utilizing more half-court sets — and beat Penn-Trafford, 37-36.
What Mt. Pleasant took for granted was its depth off the bench. Sure, the Vikings had five senior starters, but Cody Monroe graduated and Tyler Mellors decided not to play.
Guards Luke Leuckert and Zack Damico and 6-foot-4 forward Matt Johnson have improved, though production from reserves remains one of Splendore's chief concerns.
“We know it's a long season,” Splendore said. “We need to develop that sixth, seventh and eighth man.”
At least Mt. Pleasant doesn't have to worry much about the first five.
Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.
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.