Young guards pacing Quaker Valley boys
There's a lot to be said for varsity experience and the advantageous role it plays for successful WPIAL teams.
But for the Quaker Valley boys basketball team the case seems entirely reversed, as the Quakers have coasted on contributions from a host of newcomers to obtain a record of 15-2 overall and 8-2 in Section 5-AA.
“There's something to say for players that are still pining and are still hungry,” coach Mike Mastroianni said.
“I would say that these guys are all like that, as first-year starters and first-year contributors. I don't think it's that they're just performing well because they're hungry, I think that's just the initial part of it.”
The rest of it may be attributed to pure skill and competitiveness, both of which were on full display in the Quakers' 50-49 overtime victory against section foe OLSH last week.
This time around, it was junior Wolfie Moser who played the hero for Quaker Valley by scoring all of his team's points in overtime. According to Mastroianni though, any one of his three talented guards — Moser, Amos Luptak or Coletrane Washington — can star on any given night.
“Our whole team is based around the three guards, Amos, Wolfie and Coletrane. They're all good ball-handlers, and they're all good scorers when we need it. They can also create for their teammates,” the Quakers' coach said.
“A different night it can be any one or two of them combined, and they can fit any of the roles that you ask of them on any particular night.”
On many nights this season, it has been Washington that has fueled Quaker Valley's effective offensive attack. The 6-foot-3 sophomore is putting up 18.4 points per game, and is steadily rounding out the rest of his game as the season continues to progress.
“He's an outstanding 3-point shooter for being just a sophomore. His range is very good, but the best thing about him is that with the season going on here, he's shown that he's much more then that,” Mastroianni said. “He's been able to create shots for himself and for his teammates. One thing in the second part of the season here is that he's been rebounding really well, too.”
The lone returning starter from last season's team, Luptak, also has been performing at a high level. Mastroianni says the team leans on Luptak more then any other player. The junior has responded to the enhanced role by averaging 16.8 points.
In the frontcourt, Ricky Guss has taken on a major role in his first season as a varsity starter. The 6-1 sophomore, specializing in rebounding and finishing around the basket, has scored in double digits in 11 games for the Quakers.
Quaker Valley will certainly need all of its players to be at the top of their games down the stretch, as the second-place team in Section 5-AA will play Avonworth on Monday, and then at top-ranked Aliquippa on Feb. 2. The Antelopes and Quips are the only teams to beat the Quakers this season.
“Playing a team for the second time, obviously you're going to understand a lot more about the other team. Both Avonworth and Aliquippa are very, very good,” Mastroianni said.
“But sometimes, the second time around, both teams know each other so well that it just comes down to finishing. Our guys are looking forward to the challenge.”
Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.