Monessen boys set sights on 39th straight WPIAL playoff appearance
Tuesday, November 26, 2019 | 8:04 PM
It’s 38 and counting.
That’s how many consecutive years the Monessen boys basketball program has made the WPIAL playoffs – by far a record.
And the Greyhounds aren’t backing away from that legacy.
“There are certain expectations here at Monessen,” said second-year coach Dan Bosnic. “We understand those expectations; the players understand those expectations. We have to make sure we put ourselves in a position to play good basketball and to continue on with that tradition.”
The players certainly don’t want the streak to stop.
“I feel we’ve got to continue the streak because there’s a lot of respect for it around this town,” senior Carleton Jones said. “It’s a good experience and a good feeling to get in the playoffs and getting close to the championship.”
Jones returned from Milton Hershey School in time for the 2019 playoff run.
“We definitely want to keep it going and add on to it,” said senior guard Dylan Bradshaw. “We kind of want to build off the football playoff run and make a big impact with basketball and show we’re a small school that can win big games.”
Bosnic feels there’s no real secret to Monessen’s success on the hardwood as he spoke in front of one of six, jam-packed trophy cases outside the school’s gymnasium.
“I believe it’s the kids,” he said. “Players who have been all through this program for numerous years. They’re tough kids. Willing to play hard and their results reflect those things.”
After legendary coach Joe Salvino took his 600-plus victories next door to Belle Vernon, Bosnic has quickly proven to be a good fit in Greyhounds Country.
“It was a year where I felt like we grew throughout the course of the season,” Bosnic said. “Then we had that success in the playoffs, and I think it was the result of kids improving and buying into the things we were doing as a team.”
To continue their amazing streak, the Greyhounds will have to do it without Devin Whitlock, last year’s freshman sensation who moved to Belle Vernon during the offseason. He scored 20 points per game last season as Monessen went 12-0 in section play, 18-10 overall.
The Greyhounds fell to Vincentian in both the WPIAL and the PIAA playoffs.
Said Bosnic: “This year’s team will look a lot different than last year’s. We’ll have a lot of inexperienced players that we’ll rely on. ’’
Senior forwards Marquell Smith and DaWayne Howell will be looked to for leadership. Jones, a senior guard, will be relied on along with Bradshaw and Taylon Lowe.
“I feel I’m ready to lead my teammates to get more experience,” Jones said. “I want to do it right and help them out.”
The preseason is focusing on developing some depth.
The Greyhounds will open the season on Dec. 6 in the West Mifflin Tip-off Tournament against South Allegheny. Monessen will officially begin the quest for a 39th straight trip to the playoffs by opening its Section 2-A slate at home against Jefferson-Morgan on Dec. 17.
Bosnic feels Geibel will have a strong team with its starters back and Bishop Canevin has some key players returning, along with West Greene.
Assistant coaches returning will be Jack Howell and Craig Rice.