New coach, returning starters look to get Valley boys basketball back on track

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Monday, December 6, 2021 | 5:46 PM


The Chuck Crummie coaching tree continues to sprout limbs, this time all the way to New Kensington and Arnold.

John Stone, who played and coached under Crummie at Central Catholic, has now taken over the Valley basketball program.

Crummie won 653 games in 39 seasons at Central Catholic.

“I played under Chuck and coached with him for about 13 years, I was at Norwin the last two seasons under Buddy Valinsky, and now I came here after that,” Stone said.

The Vikings have gone an un-Valley-like 5-30 over the past two seasons, but Stone doesn’t hesitate in stating the goals are to get back to the type of program that won 232 games in its first 12 seasons with both a WPIAL and PIAA title over 30 playoff appearances.

Valley was in the state playoffs as recently as 2018 under former coach Mark Faulx.

“Goals are higher than ever with these guys,” Stone said. “We don’t want people to think we’re going to settle for things. We have high aspirations for everything. We want to be in contention for the section and a playoff spot. They are fighting for that every day in practice.”

Crummie’s sons, Devin and Sean, are both coaching on the high level and Sean Devinney has taken over at Freeport.

The new Valley coach expects to start out with a senior-oriented lineup when he makes his head coaching debut Friday as the Vikings visit Plum for that school’s tip-off tournament.

Seniors Ben Aftanas, Will Mott, BJ Harvey and Nate Clarke will get the starting nod along with junior Xavier Wilson.

“Coach Stone has been great,” Aftanas said. “He preaches us playing fast and playing to the best of our abilities. We’re starting to push the ball up more, the way basketball is supposed to be played. About the first hour of practice, we drill, drill, drill.”

Stone is particularly pleased with the progress of Wilson.

“Xavier came out a little late, didn’t know if he wanted to play or not but has really bought in,” Stone said.

Sophomores D.J. Scott, Andre Tayler and Jacob Staraniec are also expected to contribute.

Chrstian Joiner, a 2012 Central Catholic graduate, will be Stone’s assistant.

“This is his first coaching gig, and he’s a wonderful young man who can actually get in and help with the kids,” said Stone.

Valley will again be in Section 3-3A along with Apollo-Ridge, Ligonier Valley, Shady Side Academy, South Allegheny and East Allegheny, the only team the Vikings defeated last year en route to a 1-13 mark.

Stone has to learn the new section quickly.

“I told them the (section) rivals are anyone on the other side of the court,” Stone said. “We’re here to compete and to win and show them what we’re about.”

Aftanas and his teammates are hoping to make the recent struggles a thing of the past.

“You’ve just got to take it off your shoulder, just pretend like it never happened” Aftanas said. “It’s a new year, new season, new coach, so I think we can do well.”

Valley opens section play Dec. 17 at home against Apollo-Ridge.

Valley boys at a glance

Coach: John Stone

Last year’s record: 1-13 (1-8 in Section 3-3A)

Returning starters: Ben Aftanas (Sr. G), Will Mott (Sr. G/F), BJ Harvey (Sr. G/F), Nate Clarke (Sr. G/F)

Top newcomers: Xavier Wilson (Jr. G)

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