Narrow losses help prepare Quaker Valley boys for 2nd half of section play

Sunday, January 21, 2024 | 11:01 AM

Players on the Quaker Valley boys basketball team said “enough is enough.”

Three consecutive losses were all they could handle; the Quakers responded with a 54-51 section win against South Allegheny in two overtimes on Jan. 12.

The hard-fought victory lifted QV’s record to 2-2 in Section 4-4A and 7-6 overall.

“I’m proud of our effort in the first half of section play and how we have adapted and accepted our roles,” QV coach Mike Mastroianni said. “As we approach the second half of section play, we are aware of the importance of all of our games and excited to see our approach and growth.”

The Quakers leading scorers are 6-foot-1 senior guard Joe Coyle, at 20.4 ppg, and 6-foot sophomore guard Zach Washington, at 16.5 ppg.

“I think we are playing well this season with all of our loses except two being by single digits,” Washington said. ”My expectations for us (down the stretch) are to compete at a high level in our practices and games and aim to win the section.”

To Washington’s point, the Quakers lost by seven to Latrobe, by four to Bishop Canevin, by one to both West Mifflin and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and by three to Avonworth.

Along with leading the team in scoring, Coyle was first in assists (6.1 apg) and free throw shooting (82%), second in steals per game, and third in field goal percentage and rebounding.

Coyle netted a game-high 23 points Jan. 16 that included an 11-for-12 showing at the free throw line in a 76-48 section loss at Montour.

Washington was the team leader in 3-point shooting (42%) and ranked second in field goal (46%) and free throw (69%) shooting.

QV led 29-28 at halftime against the Spartans, who feature 6-11 junior forward/center Ama Sow in their lineup.

Other key players for the Quakers this season include Sam Chapman, a 6-2 freshman guard; Dom Cox-Giles and Dana Kromah, both 6-4 junior forwards and the team’s leading rebounders with 8.4 and 5.6 averages; Kolton Howe, a 6-2 freshman forward; and Reese Fatur, a 6-3 sophomore forward.

The Quakers’ starting lineup consists of Coyle, Washington, Chapman, Cox-Giles and Kromah, with Howe and Fatur providing help off the bench.

“We have a top seven that have shared time this season,” Mastroianni said.

Kromah ranked first on the squad in field goal shooting and blocked shots; Cox-Giles was first in steals and second in blocked shots.

Chapman was second in 3-point shooting and Washington was third in steals.

As of Jan. 17, the Section 4-4A standings looked like this: Avonworth (10-3, 4-0), Montour (10-2, 3-1), West Mifflin (8-5, 2-2), Quaker Valley (7-7, 2-3), South Allegheny (9-4, 1-3), East Allegheny (3-11, 0-4).

QV is slated to play five regular-season games in February with home contests against Avonworth (Feb. 2) and Montour (Feb. 9), road tests at South Allegheny (Feb. 6) and Shenango (Feb. 12), plus a tournament matchup with Eden Christian (Feb. 3) at Sewickley Academy.

The tournament appearance will be the Quakers’ fifth this season.

Sewickley Academy

The month of December proved fruitful for the Sewickley Academy boys basketball team.

The Panthers played eight games and won six times.

After finishing 3-18 last season, first-year coach Jim Dudas said the Panthers have been adjusting well while learning a new system.

“We were not a prolific scoring team last year,” said Dudas earlier this season, “and it may take some time for all to learn a new system with a new coaching staff, but the group is progressing well. We are a young team.”

The Panthers are youthful but Dudas welcomed back four returning starters from 2022-23, consisting of Nolan Donnelly, a 6-foot-4 junior guard/forward, and a trio of sophomores — 6-3 guard Lucas Grimsley, 5-6 point guard Caiden Battles and 6-2 forward Amare Spencer.

Sewickley’s other integral players this season include seniors Alex Wang and Jordan Smith, juniors Caleb McAdams and Kurt Armutat, and two freshman prospects, True Robinson and Garang Garang.

Grimsley and Donnelly lead the team in scoring and have been complemented offensively by Spencer, Battles, Robinson and Garang.

“These young men are dedicated and driven,” Dudas said. “They work extremely hard in practice and that paid off with results. There is good balance to our offense, and unselfish play.”

Section play began at the onset of the new year; Sewickley started out 1-3 in Section 1-2A.

After losing to two of the section favorites, Northgate and Aliquippa, the Panthers cruised past Laurel, 70-34, before dropping a tough 51-48 decision in overtime to Shenango.

When the dust settled, Sewickley was 7-5 overall with one win in section play.

As of Jan. 17, Aliquippa (9-3, 4-0) led the section standings, followed by Northgate (9-3, 4-1), Shenango (9-5, 3-2), Sewickley Academy, South Side (6-8, 1-3) and Laurel (2-12, 0-5).

The Panthers were scoring at a 52 ppg clip and were relying on strong defensive efforts. Their 47.6 ppg average on the defensive end of the court was one of the best in Class 2A.

Sewickley allowed just 33 points to New Brighton, 35 to Union and 34 to Laurel.

After tipping off 2023-24 with a 54-46 loss to rival Quaker Valley in the Carlynton tournament, Sewickley won six of seven games, including four in a row against Eden Christian (42-41), Carrick (65-60), Laurel Highlands (59-55) and Union (53-35).

The Panthers were slated to play seven of their final 10 regular-season games on their home floor.

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