Shady Side Academy basketball pays tribute to seniors, looks to future

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Friday, February 28, 2020 | 11:22 PM


The Shady Side Academy boys basketball team’s season ended with a loss to North Catholic in the WPIAL Class 3A playoffs.

The Indians finished with a 10-11 overall record, 6-6 in section play.

Coach David Vadnais will lose several seniors from the team, including top scorers Mason Tomlin and Grady Munroe.

”We relied on them for a lot more than just scoring,” Vadnais said. “Mason was our point guard and best perimeter defender. Grady was one of our best rebounders and passers.”

Seniors Thomas Muse, John Salvitti and Brice Delaney were also major contributors, Vadnais said.

“Thomas was our best post defender and rebounder,” he said. “Brice did a little bit of everything for us. He scored, rebounded and passed at a high level throughout the year. John returned to the team after taking a winter off to focus on baseball. He stepped in and became a second shooter for us and improved his all-around game throughout the season.”

Vadnais said he considered seniors Eddie Faulkner, Austin White and David Liang important parts of the team even if they received limited playing time.

“When they got an opportunity to play, they were ready and always gave 100% effort,” he said.

The Indians will return three juniors Hugh Cochran, Cayden Leavy and Jack Thornton.

“I expect all three to be key contributors,” Vadnais said. “They did not get the minutes I expected this year, but I believe they will return as seniors and lead our team to another playoff run.”

Sophomores Rian Fitzgerald, Alex Kramer and Thompson Lau also return.

Vadnais said he expects Fitzgerald, who made several starts this season, to be a key contributor next year. He said Kramer could surprise if he continues to work on his game in the offseason.

He said Lau gradually became one of the team’s best players by the end of the season.

“His defense always stood out, but his offense started to catch up late in the year,” Vadnais said. “He is primed for a strong junior year.”

A sophomore who showed some promise was Ethan Silva.

“He improved greatly as the season went on,” Vadnais said. “As he adjusted to the speed and physicality of varsity basketball, we could see him gain confidence. He relaxed and just started playing. He has a bright future in front of him if he continues to work on his game.”

Vadnais also said he saw some positives in the play of the JV team. He said a handful of players — Kramer, Garrett Fuhrer, Josh Chu, Owen Martens, Max Wickland and others — have the potential to contribute next season on varsity.

“They worked hard and got better throughout the year,” he said. “They did not get the number of wins they would have liked, but they stayed positive and continued to work and get better.

“Overall, the team worked really hard this year,” Vadnais said. “They were an enjoyable group to be around. I was happy for them that we were able to make the playoffs again. Next year, we need to take the next step as a program and improve our seeding.

“It is really hard to make a run when you start off against the one or two seed like we have the previous two years. I think we have a group returning that can do that if we put the time in during the offseason. I personally want to thank our seniors. They were a great group of guys to coach and be around.”

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