Phenomenal 6-4 freshman Oumou Thiero carries on family tradition with Quaker Valley girls basketball

Sunday, December 18, 2022 | 11:01 AM

Basketball is a staple in the Thiero family. As is height.

Oumou Thiero, aka Mimi, enjoyed a dazzling varsity debut as a freshman athlete in the Quaker Valley girls basketball program.

The 6-foot-4 Thiero led QV to a 50-47 win Dec. 2 against Montour in a tip-off tournament hosted by the Spartans. She scored 22 points, blocked seven shots and grabbed five rebounds.

Unfortunately, the freshman sensation sprained an ankle early in the Quakers’ second game of the season.

“That’s a pretty good start, and we’re looking forward to having her back when she’s healthy,” QV coach Ken Johns said. “I think with any freshman, there’s a period of adjustment when you move to high school and play at the varsity level. Oumou has done a great job of that. She works hard, plays hard and has fit well into a team with some players that have played with each other for a long time.

“She is a willing passer and good all-around playmaker. We look at her as a wing or a guard more than anything, which I think surprises some people. While she is tall and will go rebound and score around the basket, her skill set lends more toward being a wing, and that’s where we see her playing.”

Thiero is the younger sister of former QV star Adou Thiero, a 6-6 freshman guard on the Kentucky men’s basketball team. The Wildcats were ranked 16th in the nation in early December by the Associated Press.

Oumou’s and Adou’s father Almamy is an assistant coach in the Sewickley Academy boys basketball program. The elder Thiero was a member of two major college programs during an injury-plagued basketball career from 2002-07.

Almamy Thiero played hoops at Memphis in the early 2000s under legendary coach John Calipari, the current floor boss at Kentucky, long considered one of the NCAA’s blue blood programs. He also competed for Duquesne for one injury shortened season.

The elder Thiero grew up in Mali, West Africa, and was a brawny 6-9, 255-pound power forward during his collegiate playing days.

Both parents, in fact, played college basketball.

Almamy’s wife, Mariam Sy, also a Mali native, starred at NAIA Oklahoma City and was drafted by the Washington Mystics as a 6-4 forward in 2006.

Adou Thiero, a four-year backcourt starter at QV, was named 2022 TribLive HSSN Boys Basketball Player of the Year after averaging 23.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 3.9 steals and 2.3 blocks.

Quaker Valley went 27-1 last season, won the WPIAL Class 4A title and finished the season as the state runner-up.

Adou Thiero poured in 31 points, pulled down 17 rebounds and blocked seven shots in a 61-52 victory over Montour in the WPIAL finals, all while playing with a fractured thumb.

It appears it is time for his younger sister to shine under the QV spotlight and maintain the Thiero legacy.

“I sure hope so. That is my goal,” she said. “My recovery is going great. I’m looking to be back in a few days.

“My expectations for my team this season are to just play their best, enjoy basketball and make it to states.”

Johns believes Thiero’s extended basketball background is a benefit to her game.

“She has played a lot of basketball and has some good skills that are only getting better,” he said. “She has really good instincts as a player and competes really hard. Those are things you want in any player and cannot always teach.

“The season is still young and we’re still figuring a few things out. The approach and attitude of the team has been great, and the effort the girls all have put in early will hopefully continue to see the team improve as the season moves along.”

Through four games, Quaker Valley was 2-2 with wins against Montour and Rochester and losses to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and Moon. The Quakers are preparing for their Section 2-4A schedule that begins Jan. 2 with a home game against Ambridge.

When healthy, the Quakers’ starting lineup will consist of Thiero, 5-10 senior forward Shannon Von Kaenel and, in the backcourt, 5-9 senior Nora Johns, 5-7 senior Maria Helkowski and 5-5 junior Madi Chapman.

“So far, I’m very happy with how the team is coming together and playing,” Johns said. “We’ve yet to have all five starters play a full game together. Shannon and Oumou have been out with injuries and will be back soon. That has allowed for more playing time for senior Silvia Almanzar and freshman Zora Washington. They have both done well and it’s great experience for them early in the season.

“The team has been competing at a good level and It’s been good to see how the senior leaders and the underclassmen have come together.”


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