Thiero’s 30 points guides No. 2 Quaker Valley past No. 5 New Castle

Saturday, January 4, 2020 | 8:50 AM

It did not take Quaker Valley long to say adieu to New Castle on Friday night.

In fact, the Quakers said it three times in the first three-and-a-half minutes.

Quaker Valley sophomore Adou Thiero drained three 3-pointers in the opening 3:23. He finished with 30 points as the No. 2-ranked Quakers defeated No. 5 New Castle, 72-61, in a Section 2-4A home game.

“I think (those first four threes) were really crucial, especially for Adou, one of our scorers to make shots and see the ball go in,” Mastrioanni said. “He’s a confident guy and a really high-level shooter, and playing ahead gave us confidence.”

Thiero did a little bit of everything for Quaker Valley. After hitting the trio of 3-pointers early, Thiero drove to the hoop almost at will. The 5-foot-10 sophomore finished with six 2-point buckets and six rebounds. He also was 6 for 6 from the free-throw line, making him now a perfect 43 for 43 on the season from the charity stripe.

“We thought maybe we could gap them a little bit more tonight,” New Castle coach Ralph Blundo said, “and then they make four 3s to start the game, and now you have to go out and guard them a little bit more. Credit to them. They played fantastic. We weren’t very good guarding the ball, and we’ll improve on that. I believe that.”

With the ‘Canes defense having to play tighter defense after the early 3s from Thiero and K.C. Johns, the Quakers were able to take advantage of the open space in the lane and get easy baskets in the paint. When shots didn’t fall, Quaker Valley still drew fouls got to the free-throw line. The Quakers shot 16 free throws in the second quarter and 22 in the game, twice as many as New Castle attempted.

“In the second half, we said to push the ball up on the dribble and try to go after them,” Mastrioanni said. “Our ball movement and our push is part of our game.

“All three of our guards are capable point guards. We have three guys who can really handle the ball. They’re young, but very capable guys.”

An 8-0 Quaker Valley run midway through the quarter extended the lead to double-digits. New Castle, which never led in the game, cut the deficit to eight in the third quarter but got no closer.

Thiero led all scorers 30 points, Johns followed with 22, and Markus Frank added 15 points and eight rebounds for Quaker Valley.

Sheldon Cox paced new Castle with 18 points and seven rebounds. Michael Wells followed with 14 points and freshman Isiah Boice had 11. The ‘Canes have lost consecutive section games for the first time in Blundo’s 10-year tenure, and have now fallen in four of their last five.

New Castle and Quaker Valley have played against each other for the WPIAL Class 4A championship each of the last three seasons. While there is plenty of experience from three consecutive trips to the Petersen Events Center, the youth of both teams is what has stood out through the first half of the season, both in good and bad.

Both the Red Hurricanes and the Quakers start one senior and have multiple freshmen and sophomores getting involved.

“I think both of us take a lot of pride on our programs,” Mastroianni said, “not just having a good team every once in a while. It’s really a credit to the next group up.”

Atop a perennial juggernaut of a section, Mastroianni refuses to look too far toward the rest of the section season.

“We have Hopewell Tuesday,” he said. “It’s a long year. In this section, when you can win at home, you feel good. Any time you can get a home win, you take it.”

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