Quaker Valley takes down section rival Ambridge in WPIAL Class 4A semifinals

By: Josh Rizzo
Wednesday, February 27, 2019 | 10:24 PM

Ryan Stowers regained his cool as quickly as he lost it.

The Quaker Valley senior guard swatted at Ambridge forward Liam Buck following a loose ball scramble with 3 minutes, 15 seconds remaining in a WPIAL Class 4A semifinal playoff game Wednesday night at North Hills.

For his frustration, Stowers earned a technical foul during the No. 3-seeded Quakers’ 69-60 win. Before Ambridge got the ball, Stowers had to shoot a one-and-one.

“At the time, I had four fouls,” Stowers said. “I just had to keep my head up. I was keeping my head up for the team.”

Stowers, who scored 14 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, made both free throws to extend the lead to 57-50. Though No. 2 Ambridge (15-9) cut the lead to three, 57-54, following two free throws from Aaron Hilzendeger and a layup from Anthony Cvitkovic, the Bridgers would get no closer.

It was the first time in three tries this season Quaker Valley beat Ambridge.

“I thought we handle our possessions the whole game much better,” Quakers coach Mike Mastroianni said. “We handled their changing defenses, and our shot selection for the majority of the game was good.”

Quaker Valley went ahead for good 11-10 on a Jonathan Weir 3-pointer late in the first quarter. It was part of an 8-0 run for the Quakers.

The Quakers (20-3) led 29-22 at halftime and built the lead by smothering the Bridgers’ offense. Ambridge was hurt early on by poor shooting. The Bridgers shot 14.2 percent (1 of 7) from the 3-point line and 26.6 percent (8 of 30) from the field in the first half.

Aaron Hilzendeger scored a game-high 30 points for Ambridge.

Quaker Valley kept things fresh in the second half by switching styles.

The Quakers ran a lot of clock in the third quarter before going back-and-forth in the fourth. Quaker Valley was to get contributions from everywhere on offense.

Danny Conlan led Quaker Valley with 24 points, including 10 of 12 shooting from the free-throw line. Adou Thiero, Jackson Zernich and Weir helped closed the game by making vital free throws.

“We worked on it the last few days,” Mastroianni said. “We knew they were going to guard Danny and Ryan; they did. We really emphasized our other guys to be confident.”

Quaker Valley will meet New Castle in the WPIAL Class 4A finals at 1 p.m. Saturday at Petersen Events Center for third straight year.

The Quakers are looking forward to another shot at the Red Hurricanes.

“Yeah, for sure,” Stowers said. “They got us two times in a row. We want to get our revenge. Third time’s the charm.”

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