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Shaler girls inspired by 2010-11 basketball team

| Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, 9:27 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Shaler point guard Carly Harris brings the ball up-court against North Hills during a game on Jan. 20, 2014 in Ross.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Shaler's Andi Lydon takes a shot against North Hills during a game on Jan. 20, 2014 in Ross.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Shaler's Abbey Conrad takes a shot against North Hills during a game on Jan. 20, 2014 in Ross.

Shaler senior Carly Harris almost always has something to say — except following a 44-43 loss to Bishop Canevin on Jan. 11.

It was a game the Titans should have and could have won, Harris thought.

So the point guard spent the next two days in silence, refusing to talk to anyone until Shaler topped Pine-Richland, 56-44, two nights later.

“I guess I set my standards really high,” said Harris, a University of Maryland Baltimore County recruit. “I think anyone would. I hate losing. We lost a game we shouldn't have lost, and I never want that to happen to my team again.”

Harris and Shaler's other two seniors, Paige Quinn and Abbey Conrad, developed their win-or-else attitude by watching Val McQuade and the rest of the 2010-11 Shaler team capture the WPIAL Class AAAA title.

McQuade is now at Niagara, but her work ethic and intensity live on at Shaler.

“Obviously they were really good, so we didn't get to play with them a lot in the games,” Conrad said. “But just watching them play and seeing their passion affected all of us.”

Shaler is 13-4 overall and 6-3 in section play ahead of Thursday's Section 3-AAAA home game against Butler. The Titans won nine in a row to start the season but only four of eight since.

Far too often, especially recently, the fourth quarter has been problematic.

“We need to finish,” Quinn said. “The games we lost have been close. It's not any one major thing that we need to fix.”

Shaler leads Seneca Valley by a half-game in the race for second place with games against Butler, North Allegheny and Pine-Richland down the stretch.

Junior Andi Lydon leads Shaler in scoring at 14 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Conrad is putting up 12 points and 4.0 assists.

Harris has been her steady self at 7 points, 4 rebounds and a team-high 5 assists, but her greatest contributions have been from a leadership standpoint, coach Neal Martin said.

“I know our young kids look up to her, just how she carries herself,” Martin said. “They watch her prepare, and I think that's something you can't teach as a coach. It has to be innate in a lot of ways.”

Quinn, the team's vocal leader, averages 10 points and is shooting 94 percent from the free-throw line.

As a team, Shaler has increased its free-throw percentage by 24 points this winter, Martin said.

“I think our strength is our passing and how we share the ball,” Martin said. “These girls find the open person all the time. There are different options out of our sets, and nobody cares on a given night who gets the glory.”

That mentality was passed down from that 2010-11 team, which knocked off Mt. Lebanon at Palumbo Center.

Harris remembers that season well and idolized McQuade, who's now one of her close friends and was that Shaler team's unquestioned leader.

“I definitely looked up to her my freshman year,” Harris said of McQuade. “The way she led the team was a prime example of why she was looked up to by everyone.

“She showed us that we can definitely have success like we did our freshman year.”

Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jmackey@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.

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