Quaker Valley’s Gardinier garners career-high 36 in PIAA second round

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Sunday, March 27, 2022 | 11:01 AM


One of the most impressive performances of the year was turned in by Jack Gardinier in the PIAA Class 4A second round.

A 6-foot senior guard and the Quakers’ third-leading scoring threat this season, Gardinier scored a career-high 36 points to spark QV past Belle Vernon, 86-75.

“Everyone on the team and around the program knew I was capable of scoring 36, but I was glad I was able to show everyone else,” said Gardinier, a Susquehanna commit. “In warmups, I was hitting shots, but everyone does. I just felt good coming out of the locker room at halftime, so I kept shooting.

“After the game I was pretty excited at first, but, again, it wasn’t a huge surprise to anyone. After that night, it was time to move on to our next game.”

Gardinier made 7 of 9 3-pointers and scored 27 points in the second half, including 16 in the third quarter.

“Jack’s outstanding performance against Belle Vernon gave us a terrific jump-start in the second half in a highly competitive close game,” QV coach Mike Mastroianni said. “He continued to make big shots the entire second half, and his performance was not surprising to us as we value Jack for all the things he does so well every game. And we realize that his leadership has been key to our highly successful season.”

Gardinier, whose previous career-high was 21 points, and seniors Markus Frank and Adou Thiero combined for all 86 points against Belle Vernon (20-5), which advanced to the final four in the WPIAL playoffs.

Frank, a 6-5 forward, finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds. Thiero, a 6-5 guard, racked up a triple-double with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists.

Frank netted 13 field goals against BVA, and Thiero made 7 of 8 free throws down the stretch in an NBA-like fourth quarter. QV outscored Belle Vernon, 28-25, in the final eight minutes.

Thiero and Frank eclipsed the 1,000-point mark in career scoring this season.

Frank sets season scoring mark

Quaker Valley returned to the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2017-18 and saw Frank shatter a season record in his team’s 54-48 win against District 10 champion Fairview.

Frank finished with 29 points, which gave him 701 for the season, breaking Rich Woznicki’s record of 691 set 41 years ago.

“Markus has had one of the best individual seasons in Quaker Valley basketball history,” Mastroianni said, “and not knowing the WPIAL individual records, I would think he would be right up there. Markus is so deserving of the individual scoring record, and I’m sure knowing Markus he is appreciative of his teammates.

“Could not be happier for him, and he has been such a valuable part of our program for the last four years.”

Thiero chipped in with 19 points and sank a pair of crucial free throws in the game’s final seconds.

Frank, Thiero click for 48 in semi

Quaker Valleycame back from an eight-point fourth-quarter deficit to advance to the state championship game for the second time in school history, winning a 67-60 decision over Archbishop Carroll.

And with the win, QV improved to 27-0 — the longest winning streak in boys basketball in school history.

“I am very proud of our team,” Gardinier said. “We’ve done something that no other Quaker Valley team has done.”

The previous longest winning streak was 23 in a row, accomplished in 2004-05 and 2017-18. Those teams ended up 27-3 and 26-2, respectively.

The Quakers trailed 49-41 after three quarters against Archbishop Carroll but went on a 16-5 run to gain a two-point lead.

Frank, who has had support on the boards this season from Daniel Bartels, a 6-3 junior forward, scored 28 points against AC. Thiero connected for 20, and Gardinier added 10.

“So far, I think we’ve done what we set out to do at the beginning of the year,” Bartels said. “It’s really gratifying to be able to accomplish goals that we set out for ourselves. The seniors have led the way in terms of getting the job done.”

Quakers roll in first round

WPIAL champion Quaker Valley opened the state playoffs at home with a 67-51 triumph against Hickory (16-9), the third-place team from District 10.

Frank made an impressive debut in the state tournament, scoring a game-high 29 points on 12-for-16 shooting.

Senior guard Wil Dunda made three 3s in the first four minutes as QV raced to early leads of 7-0, 15-3 and 25-8. The Quakers led 38-21 at the half.

Joey Coyle, a sophomore guard, went 2 for 4 from beyond the arc, and Dunda finished with 10 points in the game.

“This run in the state playoffs has been nothing short of incredible,” Dunda said. “Everyone has been locked in from top to bottom, day in and day out. But in saying that, I still believe our best performance is still in us. The guys and I are ready to make one last push for the ultimate prize.”

Besides Coyle, other key reserves for the Quakers include juniors Troy Kozar in the backcourt and Noah Jordan in the frontcourt.

Thiero also reached double figures against Hickory with 15 points.

“I am not sure there is a better story around than Adou’s,” Mastroianni said. “In the first half of our first (WPIAL) playoff game, Adou injures his thumb and proceeds to lead us to a WPIAL championship and state championship appearance.

“This says everything about Adou. He is such a high-level player on the court with a high skillset, but what sets him apart and sometimes gets overshadowed are his intangibles. His competitiveness, drive, leadership, fight and knowledge of the game are as good as any player around.”

QV meets Newmann-Goretti in state final

Quaker Valley clashed with District 12 champion Neumann-Goretti on March 24 in the PIAA championship game at Giant Center in Hershey.

The game results were not available prior to press time for the Sewickley Herald.

The Quakers were previously in the state finals in 1999, when they lost to Annville-Cleona, 69-57, in double overtime.

Neumann-Goretti defeated District 2 winner Dallas in this year’s semifinals.

“The state playoffs are demanding as you have to play so many quality teams and you must adapt to different matchups every game,” said Mastroiann. “Our team has managed this very well on both ends of the floor.”

Heading into the PIAA final, Quaker Valley was ranked No. 1 in Class 4A in the Trib HSSN state rankings.

Neumann-Goretti (22-4), Dallas (25-4), Archbishop Carroll (15-11) and West Philadelphia (21-6) rounded out the top five.

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