Top-ranked Quaker Valley gets defensive to defeat No. 2 Ambridge

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018 | 12:36 AM


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With Drexel recruit Coletrane Washington in the lineup, Quaker Valley can score with anybody in the WPIAL, so a 23-point quarter isn't all that unusual.

But scoring 23 in a row is remarkable.

No. 1-ranked Quaker Valley stole control Tuesday night with an aggressive defense in the second quarter, held No. 2 Ambridge to two points in a 12-minute span and defeated the Bridgers, 70-41, to remain alone in first place in Section 2-4A.

Ambridge (9-3, 5-1) scored first in the second quarter, a put-back basket by Tay Lindsey to force a 14-14 tie. But then Quaker Valley (10-0, 6-0) finished the first half with a 23-0 run.

The Quakers led 37-14 at halftime.

Washington had 28 points, Ryan Stowers scored 17 and Danny Conlan added 14 for the Quakers, who average 71.9 points. But Tuesday's second-quarter effort hinted that maybe their defense is also becoming a team strength.

“I wouldn't say when we came out of the gate it was one of our better assets, because we were a pretty good scoring team,” QV coach Mike Mastroianni said. “But it's something we talk about getting better if we want to be a special team. I think we're getting better every week.”

The Quakers held four of their past six opponents to fewer than 50 points.

Ambridge found early success Tuesday with set plays and junior Aaron Hilzendeger made four 3-pointers in the first quarter. Hilzendeger finished with 18 points. The Bridgers wanted to run their offense, control the ball and wear down QV's defense.

But in the second, Quaker Valley switched to a smaller lineup, forced turnovers with its trap and saw Ambridge's shots stop falling.

“You can't turn the ball over against a good team,” Ambridge coach Mark Jula said. “We turned it over. We didn't make shots. We shot the ball too quick. We wanted to make them defend for an extended period of time and try to wear them down.

“Once they started trapping we turned the ball over and took some ill-advised shots.”

Ambridge made just 10 of 41 shots from the field.

Quaker Valley led 50-29 after three.

Washington did much of his damage at the foul line. He made 16 of 18 free throws with 12 attempts in the second half. Nineteen of his 28 points came after halftime.

“You have to keep him out of the lane,” Jula said, “which is easier said than done.”

The victory has Quaker Valley undefeated after one trip through the section, validating their label as WPIAL Class 4A favorites. The Quakers start an experienced lineup with Washington, Conlon and senior Ricky Guss all multi-year starters.

The second half starts Friday and includes road trips to New Castle on Jan. 23 and Ambridge on Feb. 9.

“You really prove what kind of team you are now because everybody knows who you are,” Mastroianni said. “I think we showed we're a little older team. I really liked our approach tonight: big game but we kept it at the right level.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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