Boys basketball preview: Revamped Shaler roster works to get up to speed

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Sunday, November 29, 2020 | 11:01 AM


Logan Bernesser’s role on the back of the press for the Shaler boys basketball team is to survey the court.

The 6-foot-6 junior forward is in the best spot to protect the rim and help direct his teammates on defense. When he peers out at the Titans this season, he will see a lot of different faces than the group that led Shaler to a 14-10 record and appearance in the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs last season.

The Titans graduated seven seniors, and Bernesser will be the most experienced player on the floor.

“Coach Rob (Niederberger) and the assistant coaches have been doing a great job with the new guys and getting them into the offense and learning it,” Bernesser said. “We’ve been working hard for the past few weeks getting to know each other.”

The Titans’ toughest challenge will be replacing the production of 1,000-point scorer Mekhi Reynolds, who racked up 23.2 points per game and is now at Clarion.

Expectations haven’t changed for Shaler coach Rob Niederberger. Even with a young, inexperienced lineup, he expects the Titans to challenge for their third straight WPIAL playoff appearance.

“We grinded it out in the summer and the last month,” Niederberger said. “We are playing fast and up-tempo. I like the way we are playing and competing. We are going to work hard, and we’ve set a standard at Shaler. Our goal is to make the playoffs. This isn’t like it was years ago.”

The Titans plan to utilize a mix of experience and youth. Junior guards Josh Miller and Dylan Schlagel were key contributors last season.

Shaler will also see significant contributions from a strong freshman class.

“We’re nowhere near a finished product. We expect to get bigger and stronger,” Niederberger said. “When I look at this team, it is a team that isn’t going to quit. They are going to work hard and compete. We’re going to get a lot of guys in and get experience quick.”

The Titans, who like to pressure on defense, are hoping to take advantage of their fitness at the start of the year. Having that extra energy may allow Shaler to steal some extra possessions and games.

“The conditioning we’ve been going through has helped us get back and with the scramble aspect on defense,” Bernesser said. “I think we have a better conditioning standpoint. We’ve been down on the track three days a week working on sprinting.”

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