Shady Side Academy Bulldogs get off to a hot start with a young team

Saturday, January 23, 2021 | 8:01 AM

Heading into this season, Shady Side Academy boys basketball coach David Vadnais knew his team was going to be young and would have to find its identity early after a long layoff.

Through two games, Vadnais said the Bulldogs are still looking for that identity, but they are having success while doing it.

In SSA’s first game of the season Jan. 13 against East Allegheny, sophomore guard Ethan Salvia scored in a team-high 15 points, and freshman Peter Kramer added 10 and junior Thompson Lau had 11 in a 72-38 victory.

Then, almost a week later, Shady Side’s young guys came up big again as Salvia scored 13 points. Freshman Eli Teslovich also stepped up with a team-high 23 points, including 19 in the first half.

“We’re really happy with how we’ve played so far. We’re just so inexperienced that I don’t know what we’re going to have on a nightly basis,” Vadnais said. “The guys play really hard, and they are unselfish. It’s just a matter of us learning how we want to play offense and how we’re guarding.”

The Bulldogs have been trying to play fast and get players out in transition, which is what they are comfortable with. Vadnais added their opponents’ possessions have been taking up time, though, as the Bulldogs have tried to clog the lane and not get beat inside.

But, when the Bulldogs are running, they are able to use their quickness and their depth to their advantage.

“Defensively, we’re just trying to play inside the 3-point line and stop dribble penetration, so some of the possessions that other teams have are pretty lengthy because we have done a good job of not allowing teams to get into the paint and break us down,” Vadnais said.

“Offensively, we have tried to play quick. We have some depth. We have some kids that can really run. We have some kids who are skilled in transition, and we have some guards who really thrive when we are pushing the ball to try and give ourselves some better looks.”

In most games this season, Vadnais said the Bulldogs will start a sophomore, freshman and three juniors. But, so far, they haven’t shown too many nerves. They have a strong camaraderie, which Vadnais believes has helped them become accustomed to the varsity level.

“Maybe in that first game, they might have had to get some nerves, especially with the freshmen, Peter and Eli,” Vadnais said. “But once they start playing, they just play. Those two are basketball players, and we’ve got a lot of other guys who prioritize in something else but they’ve been in competitive situations.”

With two layoffs early in the season, the team still is learning its identity. Vadnais believes that the players will continue to improve, and he is excited for what is to come.

“We’re truly just learning what we’re best at and what groups of guys can work well on a floor,” Vadnais said. “We’re still implementing and seeing what works. We play hard, and we’re trying to play in transition, but is that what we are going to be all year? Or, can we add to that so it’s not as easy to shut us down?”

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


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