New-look Plum boys basketball team taking shape
Thursday, December 2, 2021 | 5:43 PM
When the final buzzer sounded to conclude Plum’s WPIAL Class 5A first-round loss to New Castle last March, Plum coach Mark Marino was able to take stock of what his veteran team was able to accomplish during a season filled with so many covid-related uncertainties
In the days following, he also began to look to the transition to a new-look squad after five seniors, four of whom were starters, moved on to graduation.
As a new season approaches, Marino, now in his third year at the helm of the Mustangs, is starting to see a new team take shape with veteran returnees and newcomers set to make their mark.
“A number of the guys really took advantage of work in the summer and the fall,” Marino said. “We’re really excited to see the growth in the guys this year. The one thing is when you lose five seniors, the next year, it runs the risk that you will be extremely young. But we have a pretty good group of juniors and seniors who have been figuring things out as far as competing for varsity playing time.”
Marino said the players got in close to 30 combined games over the summer and fall.
Plum, led by the efforts of players such as Valley News Dispatch third-team all-star Connor Moss (19.4 points per game, 5.8 rebounds per game), as well as Ta’Rasi Means (9.7 ppg.), finished the 2020-21 season 9-6 overall and 5-5 in Section 4-5A.
While the WPIAL playoffs were an open-tournament format, the Mustangs earned a berth based on the merit of finishing in fourth place in the section.
The lone starter back from last year’s playoff team is 6-foot-3 senior Cam Moss, the younger brother of Connor, who averaged 3.2 points and 2.6 rebounds last year.
“When we’re looking to feed him in the post and get him touches, we know he’s going to be at the top of the other team’s scouting report,” Marino said. “We’re excited to see how he’s going to respond to that challenge.”
Joining Moss in a captain’s role is 5-8 senior guard Rocco Schneiderlocher.
“Because of covid last year, he had to step away from the program, but he is back and ready to go for us,” Marino said. “He is just such a good teammate and a really strong player for us. He does so many things right, both on and off the court.”
Marino also said sophomores Brendan Getlak and Aiden Stalnaker have been making a push for possible varsity playing time.
Marino said there is competition across the board for starting spots and other minutes in the rotation.
“This is probably my biggest roster since I’ve been here with 18 guys, including three freshmen,” Marino said. “Now, when we tell someone that they are going to have to compete hard in practice to earn a spot, he sees it because there are teammates who are going after the same exact goal. That has been very helpful in terms of pushing kids to reach their full potential.”
Plum will do battle again in Section 4 with Armstrong, Hampton, Highlands, Indiana, Mars and Shaler.
Plum is slated to kick off its season with Southmoreland, Valley and Riverview at the Plum Tip-Off Tournament on Dec. 10-11.
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .
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