Monessen boys basketball sets sights on 40th straight playoff berth

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Wednesday, December 2, 2020 | 2:35 PM


Many people express concerns when approaching 40.

But for the Monessen boys basketball program, reaching 40 is an admirable goal.

The Greyhounds secured their WPIAL-record 39th consecutive playoff appearance last season, and the team is relishing its chances to hit the 40 mark this season.

“It’s an expectation at Monessen,” coach Dan Bosnic said. “There’s a lot of tradition, and we obviously want to uphold that tradition.”

“Monessen’s always had a bunch of talent in basketball,” senior captain Chas Mrlack said. “I think the teams that go far are the disciplined ones and the ones that keep their heads on straight and go out with the same mentality every night.”

To add to the challenge of keeping the streak alive, Monessen was bumped up from Class A to 2A during the biennial enrollment realignment.

The Greyhounds will now be in Section 4-2A along with Jefferson-Morgan, which has also moved up. They join holdovers Frazier, California, Bentworth and Carmichaels.

Said Bosnic: “Moving up to 2A, we’re going to acquaint ourselves with those teams in our new section. We’ll see real fast how we fit in that new section, so moving up will be a challenge in itself.”

With just 10 section games, there’s little margin for error.

“With the new section in double-A, it’s going to be tougher,” said Mrlack, a 6-foot senior forward. “But we have guys who want to play the right kind of basketball. If we can do that, we can have a very successful season.”

Also adding to the challenge of another playoff trip is the fact that Mrlack is the only returning starter.

“We have a good group of older guys who played JV basketball last year,” Bosnic said. “But we felt that group got better throughout the year. They’re a great group of kids who work hard and come to practice every day wanting to get better.”

Junior Kody Kuhns and Kiantae Robinson will be joined in the backcourt by senior James Thomas. Angelo Mauro and Mechi Cook will join Mrlack in the frontcourt.

That puts Mrlack in a position to be the team leader, a role the aspiring actor is willing to play.

“I’m currently auditioning for schools where I can go and become an acting major,” the senior said.

“I think we have a bunch of guys who want to play disciplined basketball and really want to go out there and just win. That’s all we’re going to need.”

Monessen got off to a slow start last season, losing its first five games and eight of its first nine. That’s because the Greyhounds played mostly larger schools such as Norwin, Franklin Regional and Upper St. Clair. By the time section play rolled around, Monessen was ready to make another playoff trip, going 9-3 in Section 2-A.

The Greyhounds finished in second place, three games behind Bishop Canevin.

A first-round playoff setback to Union, 46-41, still stings. Union ended the third period with a 14-5 surge and the Greyhounds couldn’t catch up.

This season, Monessen is scheduled to open Dec. 11 against Serra Catholic, though the school is seeking another opponent because of covid-related delays to other schools that were invited to a tip-off tournament.

Monessen will open its quest for the 40th straight playoff run Jan. 5 at Jefferson-Morgan.

Monessen boys at a glance

Coach: Dan Bosnic

2019-20 record: 10-13 (9-3 Section 2-A)

Returning starters: Chas Mrlack (Sr., F)

Top newcomers: Kody Kuhns (Jr., G), Kiantae Robinson (Jr., G), James Thomas (Sr., G), Angelo Mauro (Sr., F), Mechi Cook (Sr., F)

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