Quaker Valley boys basketball bounces back after close loss to start season

Sunday, January 24, 2021 | 8:01 AM

On Jan. 8, the Quaker Valley boys basketball team started their season with a 55-54 loss to Montour in a Section 2-4A game at home.

The Quakers didn’t fret, though. They had led for most of the game before the win slipped through their fingers in the second half. So like most teams Mike Mastroianni has coached over the years, the Quakers just got back to work, and it has paid off.

They followed with a four-point nonsection win over Bishop Canevin on Jan. 12 before earning a convincing 57-26 win over Beaver.

Juniors Markus Frank and Adou Thiero scored 19 and 17 points, respectively, and they held Beaver to five points or fewer in each of the final three quarters.

After their contest against Ambridge on Jan. 19, the Quakers improved to 3-1, and Mastroianni was happy with how they responded after the opening loss.

“We’re definitely playing better, but I still think we’re in the finding-it-out stage,” Mastroianni said. “We still think we are not at the place that we were prior to the shutdown, but we’re heading in the right direction.”

In their four games, the Quakers have gotten production from across the board. Thiero and Frank have scored 16 and 14.5 points per game, respectively, and Jack Gardinier is at 8.3. But Mastroianni said he is getting a lot of production from other guys in his lineup.

“As much as we talk about the guys that are returning for us, we have four other guys that are new in our rotation, and they are the ones that are actually rounding it in and doing some good things for us as well,” Mastroianni said. “They are just adapting to their roles within our team.”

Sophomore guard Ian Herring scored 15 points against Ambridge, and Will Dunda hit three 3-pointers in the second quarter against Beaver. Nico Guild and Malcom Jordan also have been contributing.

But as the season carries on, Mastroianni is looking for his guys to get back to the level of cohesiveness that the longtime basketball coach loves to develop. He said they were at a good place before the hiatus, and they are looking to get back to that place.

“There’s little pieces within the chemistry that we are still getting better at,” Mastroianni said. “But I’m really pleased and proud of all the guys and especially the new guys with how they’ve adapted into their roles.”

Before the shutdown in mid-December, Mastroianni said 6-foot-7 center Guild broke a finger during their scrimmage, and he is just getting back into the swing of things.

The Quakers also had an interesting situation during their matchup with Ambridge as they scored 86 points but none from the free-throw line. Mastroianni said it was the first time in school history that had happened.

“That’s a unique stat for sure, but it wasn’t like we weren’t attacking either, and, if you watch the game, that’s probably what makes it even more peculiar,” Mastroianni said. “It wasn’t like we were playing all around the perimeter and not around the basket because we probably actually had more shots around the basket than the perimeter (that) night.”

Although the Quakers are improving, Mastroianni said there is a long way to go.

“We’re not close to where we want to be defensively, and I don’t think as a coach you are ever pleased, but we have a lot of things that we could be much much better at, so that’s probably the biggest thing,” Mastroianni said.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .


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