Pieces come together for Quaker Valley in dream season

Sunday, February 27, 2022 | 11:01 AM

Quaker Valley’s boys basketball team played 20 regular season games without a loss.

It was a dream season for the Quakers, led by two of the most productive players in the WPIAL: senior guard Adou Thiero and senior forward Markus Frank.

QV ended the regular season 20-0, 14-0 in Section 2-4A, and with the Trib HSSN No. 1 ranking in Class 4A in the WPIAL and the state.

The Quakers rolled past No. 8 Deer Lakes, 66-34, at home in the quarterfinal round of the WPIAL playoffs.

It was a magical night for Frank, who broke the school record held by Thiero with a spectacular 45-point performance against the Lancers.

Thiero (25.1 ppg, 9.3 rpb), who scored 44 points in a game earlier this season, and Frank (27.2 ppg, 9.7 rpg) both stand 6-foot-5 and both are 1,000-point career scorers.

But basketball is a team game and the ultra-talented tandem has received valuable support from several other players.

Thiero (5.8 assists, 4 steals) and Frank are joined in the starting lineup by senior guards Jack Gardinier and Wil Dunda and 6-3 junior forward Daniel Bartels, one of the team’s leading rebounders.

“All three (Gardinier, Dunda and Bartels) give us a level of toughness and compete at a very high level,” QV coach Mike Mastroianni said. “They really do all of the little things that are important in our team success, and all three have had outstanding seasons to this point.

“All of our players have been willing contributors and their understanding of their roles has a lot to do with our team success. We talk all the time about not trying to do more then we ask you to do. I commend our players for their commitment to the process, and it is really the backbone of our success.”

QV has four seniors in its starting lineup and has what would be considered a tall cast of players as all five starters are listed at 6-foot or taller.

The Quakers averaged 74 points per game in the regular season but also has the best defense in 4A, limiting opponents to 47.7.

That’s one of the spots — defense — where Gardinier, Dunda and Bartels fit in well.

“We have a number of high-level defenders,” Mastroianni said. “We are a team with defined roles with different strengths from all of our players. When scoring opportunities present themselves, Jack, Will and Dan are looking to score.”

The 6-foot Gardinier is a quick backcourt player who takes on the role at times of setting up the team’s two offensive catalysts.

“I’m very proud of our team, but there is still more work to do,” Gardinier said. “We have more goals. Our expectation all season has been to win a WPIAL championship. Anything short of that, then we haven’t done our job.”

Gardinier netted 14 points against three teams this season” Kennedy Catholic, Blackhawk and Hopewell.

“I feel like I have had a good season so far,” Gardinier said. “Playing behind Adou and Markus takes away some shots, but I’ve been able to take on a playmaking role. I also pride myself on doing the little things and playing hard 100 percent of the time.”

Dunda, who stands 6-1, also does alot of the little not-always-noticed things needed to run a smooth backcourt.

“It’s been an amazing run so far this season. It is nice to see all of the hours of hard work we’ve been putting in the gym paying off,” Dunda said. “Winning every game in the regular season has been great, but being with this group of guys every day has been special. I genuinely feel that we have a brotherhood here at QV.”

Dunda’s top offensive game this year was his eight-point effort at home against Beaver.

“Coach Maz does a great job of putting us all in a role where we can succeed as players and as a team,” Dunda said. “Whatever the team needs of me to win, I will do. The only statistic I care about is that we win.

“One of our main goals this season was to win the WPIAL championship. If we continue to work hard, play together like we have been doing, I know we can accomplish great things.”

Bartels ranks third on the team in rebounding department behind Frank and Thiero with a 5.6 per game.

“I think we’ve performed really well this season, especially being able to play big in big games. It’s been a lot of fun playing with guys as good as Markus, Adou, Jack and Wil,” Bartels said. ”I think our expectations are exactly the same as everyone else’s expectations are of us. We are the No. 1 seed and so we are expecting to finish as the No. 1 team as well, winning the WPIAL.”

One of Bartels’ best games of the season came against Ambridge when he grabbed 14 rebounds; his leading offensive game was a nine-point performance against Chartiers Valley.

“Being a role player is more about doing a couple things really well,” Bartels said. “My role is more on defense and cleaning up the boards.”

Other role players include reserves Joey Coyle, a sophomore, and juniors Troy Kozar and Noah Jordan. Coyle and Kozar offer help in the backcourt while Jordan complements the QV frontcourt.

Quaker Valley (21-0) received a first-round bye this year after landing the No. 1 seed in the WPIAL 4A playoffs.

Against Deer Lakes, Frank made 20 field goals — all inside the paint — and eclipsed Thiero’s team record late in the game.

The WPIAL Class 4A championship game is set for March 3 at Pitt’s Petersen Events Center with a 9 p.m. tipoff.


More Basketball

Former Norwin star Jenna Lusby hired as Jeannette girls basketball coach
7-time WPIAL champion coach Spencer Stefko steps down at North Allegheny
Mike Iuzzolino takes over Sewickley Academy boys basketball program
Belle Vernon hires former Shaler, Gateway coach to lead girls basketball program
20 years later, Roundball Classic continues to evolve