Trib HSSN Boys Basketball Player of the Week: Shaler Area’s Mekhi Reynolds
By: Likitha Janga
Monday, February 4, 2019 | 8:09 PM
School: Shaler Area
They haven’t made the WPIAL boys basketball playoffs since 2012. In the six years since, their combined overall record is 49-86. But those recent struggles are becoming a distant memory for Shaler Titans fans.
Thanks to a pair of section victories last week, Shaler has clinched a playoff spot and hopes to seal the deal on second place behind defending champion Mars in Section 3-5A.
The play of junior Mekhi Reynolds all season, and especially last week, has been a big part of the Titans turnaround.
The week started Tuesday with a key contest against a Hampton team that was one game behind Shaler.
“In our game against Hampton where he scored 21, nothing stood out as crazy because that type of offensive output is what he and we expect every game,” fourth-year coach Rob Niederberger said. “Offensively, he has been doing that all season. In the Hampton game, we played our best defensive game all season, and he was a big part of it.”
Following the Titans’ 57-49 triumph over the Talbots, Shaler hosted a desperate Armstrong team that was clinging to its postseason hopes and needing a road win.
Reynolds had another big game and was active in all aspects of the Titans offense performance, Niederberger said.
“Against Armstrong, I looked up at the scoreboard after three quarters and saw he had 27 and thought, ‘Whoa!’ He was shooting well, but it was almost a quiet 27 because as a team we were sharing the ball so well and had multiple guys in double-figures scoring.
“When we have 3 or 4 guys in double digits, that is when we as a team are at our best, and Mekhi being our point guard is a big reason for that.”
Dedication to the game has been a big part of the junior guard’s rise up the ranks of district standouts.
“I think the key to Mekhi’s success has been his work ethic,” Niederberger said. “Whether it is May or January, Mekhi is the first guy in the gym. Every Friday night I get the text saying, ‘Coach, can we come in early and get up shots tomorrow?’ He gets to school every day at 6 a.m. to get up a couple of hundred shots. In short, he has put in the time.”
But it’s not just the physical time and effort Reynolds has made that separates him from a lot of players.
“I think Mekhi’s game has improved most this year on the mental side,” Niederberger said. “He thinks the game much better. He’s becoming another coach out there. He realizes that there are so many aspects to the game that makes a complete player: scoring, passing, rebounding, defense and being a good teammate.”
With a playoff berth clinched, Shaler begins the final week of the regular season on Tuesday with a visit to Franklin Regional in a battle between 9-3 teams for second place.
“I think continuing to play well down the stretch is what is most important,” Niederberger said. “I think we are approaching that time in the season where the teams that make a run in the playoffs have a player or two that step up and push your team to a level you haven’t reached yet.”
Dan Petcash, Pine-Richland
Two wins last week clinched another section crown for Pine-Richland as the Rams continue to fine-tune their game for another district championship run. Leading the charging Rams was senior Dan Petcash, who led all scorers with 29 points on Tuesday in a 95-76 rout of host Butler that clinched first place. Petcash followed up on Friday with a 25-point performance as Pine-Richland cruised to a 21-point romp over North Hills for a 16th consecutive victory.
Isiah Warfield, Sewickley Academy
News broke last week that senior Nate Ridgeway had left the Sewickley Academy team, hurting the Panthers chances of a WPIAL three-peat. Don’t give up on us yet was the message delivered by junior standout Isiah Warfield as he scored 35 points Tuesday in a 68-64 loss to South Side Beaver. Sewickley Academy then snapped a three-game losing skid with a win over Burgettstown in which Warfield scored 30 and the Panthers moved back into second place in Section 3-2A.
Enzo Fetsko, Geibel Catholic
It has been 13 years since the Geibel Catholic boys basketball program last had a winning season. The Gators finished 13-7 back in the 2005-06 season. Geibel Catholic enters the final week of the regular season with a 10-9 overall record thanks to the play of Enzo Fetsko. The junior guard scored 28 points in a 97-63 loss to first place Monessen on Tuesday. He then scored 38 points Saturday in a 22-point victory over Aquinas Academy.
Don Rebel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Don at [email protected] or via Twitter @TheDonRebel.
ljanga is a Tribune-Review freelancer. You can contact ljanga at [email protected].