Quaker Valley boys basketball makes most of summer competition
Saturday, July 24, 2021 | 8:01 AM
The Quaker Valley boys basketball team returns four starters, but with each new year, there can be a tweak in how each player’s role is defined.
There could be an added responsibility or a change in focus for each player, and for Quakers coach Mike Mastroianni, the best time hash that out is in the summer.
In the process, the Quakers played some stiff competition in the New Castle league and the Pittsburgh Basketball Club Summer League and racked up some wins.
“Even though we have some players returning, we’re asking them to do some more things or different things than we did in the past,” Mastroianni said. “At the same time, we’re adding players in and asking them to do things that we need. We emphasized that during the summer every game, because if you aren’t working on those things then I feel you are wasting those games. It’s not about continuities or plays or anything like that. It’s about what roles they will play.”
Quaker Valley made the semifinals of the PBC’s 4A-6A league and lost to Fox Chapel.
Jack Gardinier, Will Dunda, Markus Frank and Aidou Thiero, who are all going into their senior season, are the four returning starters for the Quakers. Ian Herring, a rising junior, saw significant time off the bench.
Thiero did not participate in summer league action after suffering a severe leg injury in Quaker Valley’s first-round playoff win over Derry.
Mastroianni said Thiero is healthy and working out again, but they felt it was best for him to not return to play in the summer. Thiero, who has Division I offers from Long Island and UC Santa Barbara, led the Quakers in scoring at 21.8 points per game last season.
With Thiero out, opportunity arose for some of the returners to grow as leaders and at the same time provided extra minutes for some younger players.
Joe Coyle, a rising sophomore, stared two-thirds of the summer league games. Donny Bartles, a rising junior, started at center nearly the entire offseason. Mastroianni also credited Troy Kozar, another rising junior, for having a great offseason.
Each one was working on the role the coaching staff envisions for them.
“Someone may have defended a wing last year, and this year we could be asking them to defend the post and rebound defensively,” Mastroianni said. “Or, maybe last year we started two 6-foot-5 guys that were our tallest players and someone else was our third-tallest guy and now they are the second-tallest guy, so we need them to rebound more.
“Someone else may not have been a ball handler last year and now they may be our secondary ball handler. Those things are all important when you are developing continuity and putting the pieces of the puzzle together for next season.”
Quaker Valley participated in a couple of shootouts and a weekend team camp at Geneva as well as the PBC and New Castle league.
Between the New Castle league and the PBC, the Quakers played Pine-Richland, New Castle, Bishop Canevin, Canon-McMillan, North Hills, Fox Chapel, Franklin Regional and Penn-Trafford among others. They scored a pair of wins over both Pine-Richland and Bishop Canevin and one over New Castle. All three teams were in WPIAL finals a season ago.
“Both leagues afforded us a high-level competition,” Mastroianni said. “We played against a lot of quality teams and our young guys got to the opportunity to play against them for the first time.”
Jerin Steele is a freelance writer
Tags: Quaker Valley
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