As program builds, expectations rise for Shaler boys basketball

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Thursday, February 27, 2020 | 11:47 PM


Building a program wasn’t easy for coach Rob Niederberger.

After several seasons in which the Shaler Area boys basketball team struggled to earn victories, Niederberger and his players righted the ship.

The Titans fell short of reaching the PIAA Class 5A playoffs for the second straight season after Chartiers Valley lost to Mars in the WPIAL semifinals. Under the WPIAL’s follow-the-leader state qualification process, Shaler (14-10) needed the Colts to win after the Titans lost to them 52-45 in the quarterfinals last Friday.

“It’s become more of an expectation,” Niederberger said of winning in the playoffs. “The old way of Shaler from when I got here is gone. We used to hope to make the playoffs. Now we are upset we lost and still aren’t in it now. We expect more.”

Maintaining the success will be another challenge for Niederberger. But after a second straight season with a WPIAL playoff win — Shaler beat Gateway in the first round — selling a culture of success won’t be an issue.

“In a way, it’s easier,” Niederberger said. “Getting kids to believe is the first part of the battle. The past couple years are evidence we can do it. We know what got us there, which is hard work and committing. If you can do that, you’ll be fine.”

Mekhi Reynolds demonstrated what that kind of commitment can do for a player. Reynolds, who has several offers from Division II schools, will be one of seven seniors Shaler has to replace. Reynolds scored more than 1,000 points during his career and led the Titans by averaging more than 20 points per game this season.

The Titans also will lose seniors Jonah Yount, Tyler Lander, Darin Mizgorski, Chris White, Jake Miller and Nick Rispoli.

“They’ve worked their butts off since Day 1,” Niederberger said. “They’ve worked for everything they got. It’s part of the culture that turned Shaler around.”

The Titans finished this season in second place in Section 3-5A behind Mars. Shaler wants to keep chasing after the top spot.

This group of Titans laid the foundation.

“They’ve set a culture for what we expect in the future,” Niederberger said.

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