Shaler boys ready to take next logical step

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Friday, November 29, 2019 | 12:01 AM


Once all the pieces are in place, Shaler Area boys basketball coach Rob Niederberger has set clear goals for his team.

He believes the Titans are good enough to win the section and Class 5A WPIAL titles. For a team that made a return to the state playoffs for the first time since 2012, it is a logical step.

“Every year I’ve been at Shaler, it’s been a mountain climb,” Niederberger said. “Every year, we’ve gotten better. I feel like this is what they expect. These goals are around for a reason. It’s something we believe in and what we think we can do. We put more pressure on ourselves than anyone puts on us.”

Shaler will open the season Dec. 6 against Burrell in the Freeport Tournament. It will be a nice throwback for Niederberger, who led the Bucs to an appearance in the Class AA WPIAL title game in 2013.

When the season starts, Niederberger will be seeking to bring together a diverse group of players. Shaler returns Mekhi Reynolds, its leading scorer and first-team all-section player from last season.

Letterwinners Jake Miller, Nick Rispoli and Darin Mizgorski also return.

“We have nine guys who can help us this year,” Niederberger said.”We have a lot of pieces.We have to put the puzzle pieces together.”

Shaler will also have Chris White, a 6-foot-3 forward who transferred from Carrick. Logan Burnesser, a 6-6 forward, will play after recovering from a football injury, and Jayshawn Greene joined the team and will provide athleticism.

Jonah Young and Josh Miller are also returning to provide depth for the Titans.

“We’re bigger and more athletic than we were last year,” Niederberger said. “Right now, we’re not running our stuff the way that group did. This group needs to learn how to jell and find an identity. Once we do, we can play with anybody.”

If that turns out to be the case, Shaler hopes to find a way to finish among the district’s best.

“We need to grind it out in practice,” Niederberger said. “We have to keep working to get better every day. That’s all you can do. You have to keep pushing every day and get to where you need to be. We have a lot of confidence, and I think the team understands the potential they have.”

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