Quaker Valley boys hoops takes 3 of 4 to start 2013
The Quaker Valley boys basketball team had a busy, yet successful start to the new year, picking up three wins in just four days in the first week of the new calendar.
The Quakers raised their record to 8-3 overall and 1-2 in Section 6-AA after defeating Quigley Catholic, Avonworth and Burgettstown last week.
After losing several key contributors from last season's team due to graduation and injury, the team has had to rely on a new set of players to take a leadership role this year.
“Their roles have changed, and that's been an adjustment because last year they were the ‘other guys' and this year we need them to be out in front,” coach Mike Mastroianni said. “They've been doing a really good job of leading us.”
Two of those leaders are seniors Burke Moser and Nelson Westwood, who have helped carry the team through the early part of the season.
“They're doing it because they're older and because they have to do more but not too much,” Mastroianni said. “They have to try to make sure they are including other players, and they've done that.”
Meanwhile, the Sewickley Academy boys basketball team also started the new year on the right foot, as it defeated Quigley Catholic, 58-45, on Jan. 4 in its first Section 2-A game of the season.
The win improved the Panthers' record to 3-6 overall and 1-0 in section play, but the team challenged itself by scheduling stiff competition to start the season, something coach Win Palmer believes will benefit his team as the year goes along.
“We've gone out this year and played good people,” Palmer said. “We've played against different styles, athleticism, teams that trap, teams that play aggressive man-to-man (defense), and teams that play zone. We've played against a mixture of styles, and I think our players really did learn a lot from that schedule.”
Palmer points to a scoring-by-committee approach to this year's team that has made the Panthers difficult to defend. Junior guards Keenan Hickton and JP Bowell and senior guard Jordan Milo are just three of the many players who lead the balanced scoring attack.
“Down in Washington D.C. (at the Bulldog Bash) we had different leading scorers in each of those games,” Palmer said. “The nice thing was we had real balance. We saw that again against Quigley. I think it's very difficult to key on us, because different guys can step up at different points.”
The Quaker Valley girls basketball team has made a smooth transition this season after moving up a classification to Section 5-AAA.
The team's 6-3 overall record and 3-1 section mark in a tougher classification might come as a surprise to some, but for Mastroianni, who also is the QV athletic director, the Quakers' success this year is not unexpected.
“It's definitely a high level of play night-in and night-out, but our coaching staff does a tremendous job of getting the team prepared and, I think, fortunately for our girls, we have an experienced team,” Mastroianni said. “So I think that's helping them this year, having played together for three years. That's helped with their adjustment.”
Despite playing without any seniors on the roster this season, the Sewickley Academy girls basketball team is off to a 4-5 start overall and is 1-2 in Section 1-A.
“What's very exciting about the team is it's one with no seniors and relying on the freshman, sophomore and junior class to come through for us,” said Palmer, the AD at Sewickley Academy. “They're playing a very aggressive defensive style which is a lot of fun, and they're enjoying that.”
The Panthers picked up an accomplishment already this season, as they won the program's first game at Aliquippa with a 42-28 victory on Dec. 17.
The Sewickley Academy hockey team returned to the ice this season after not fielding a team for the 2011-12 season. The Panthers opened the year with an 11-1 win over Western Reserve Academy despite having low roster numbers.
Sewickley Academy is competing primarily in the Independent Schools Hockey League against teams such as Linsly School, Kiski School, Shadyside Academy and Western Reserve Academy.
The Panthers are 1-2 and will play their next game Jan. 9 against Kiski School.
The Quaker Valley boys and girls swimming teams have had impressive seasons up to this point. The boys team is 4-0 and recently finished fifth in the West Allegheny Christmas Invitational. The girls team is 3-1 and finished sixth at the West Allegheny Tournament.
Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.