Trib HSSN Boys Basketball Team of the Week: Monessen

Tuesday, March 12, 2019 | 12:34 AM

Our Trib HSSN Team of the Week has shined under both a first-year coach and a first-year point guard to reach the Class A WPIAL semifinals and now the second round of the state playoffs — the Monessen Greyhounds.

You always want to be the person who follows the person who followed the legend.

Dan Bosnic didn’t have that opportunity, yet so far, so good for Monessen’s first-year coach.

Bosnic was hired to take over the program after legendary coach Joey Salvino left to lead the Belle Vernon boys.

Bosnic became the first boys basketball coach at Monessen who didn’t answer to Jo-Jo in more than three decades.

“I felt comfortable from Day 1 because Monessen kids are tough and love to compete every game,” Bosnic said. “As with any change, I believe it took our players some time to get used to how we prepare to play and what our expectations are of them. I am proud of how they have adapted.”

The Greyhounds finished 14-8 overall in the regular season and won the Section 2-1A title by two games.

After beating St. Joseph in the WPIAL quarterfinals, hopes of a district crown ended when Monessen lost to defending champion Vincentian Academy, 61-49, in the semifinals.

The Greyhounds had 11 days between the loss to the Royals and their first-round state playoff game against Jamestown.

“The toughest part was balancing our desire to continue to improve as a team with our practice time and giving our players a chance to get healthy,” Bosnic said. “It’s something we struggled with throughout the season. I believe we were able to accomplish both of those goals.”

On Friday, Monessen led 35-28 against District 10 champion Jamestown before turning it up in the second half to outscore the Muskies, 40-26, and coast to a 75-54 win at Edinboro.

Bosnic felt the Greyhounds’ pressure and pace were big in wearing down the D-10 champs.

“We knew going into the game we would have to be successful in those areas. We were fortunate enough to have a lot of players contributing, which allowed us to be effective with our style of play.”

Monessen had three players in double-digit scoring led by freshman Devin Whitlock with 23 points. Senior Dishon Howell had 12 points, and junior Marquell Smith added 10 points.

Whitlock has been a gem for the Greyhounds all year, playing beyond his ninth-grade status.

“Devin has been tremendous,” Bosnic said. “He has a lot of great qualities as a player such as his ability defend, to attack off the dribble, and set up his teammates. But what makes him so special as a freshman is his competitiveness. It has been fun to see him improve over the course of the season.”

The season for Monessen continues with a PIAA second-round game against District 6 runner-up Bishop Carroll at Greensburg-Salem.

“It is easy to see on film that Bishop Carroll is a good basketball team,” Bosnic said. “They have guards that are capable of getting to the hoop and are all good shooters, and they also have good size inside. We hope to play our best basketball against them on Tuesday night.”

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