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Quaker Valley boys basketball hopes to benefit from depth | TribLIVE.com
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Quaker Valley boys basketball hopes to benefit from depth

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Quaker Valley’s Danny Conlan scores past Ambridge’s Tay Lindsey during their game Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018, in Leetsdale.

Quaker Valley’s boys basketball team has played for the last two WPIAL Class 4A championships.

The Quakers hope to make it back to Petersen Events Center once again this spring as well as to the PIAA semifinals, where they lost to Sharon, 65-48, to finish last season 26-2.

“Absolutely. Last year, we had heartbreak at the Pete,” senior forward Danny Conlan said about the team’s 57-52 loss to New Castle in the WPIAL title game after sweeping the team in section play. “We have that chip on our shoulder now. We want to see how far we can get this year and hope to take it one step at a time.”

Quaker Valley’s lineup will look different this year without graduates Coletrane Washington, Ricky Guss and Alex Skowron. Washington, a Drexel freshman, averaged 21.5 points and was one of the WPIAL’s top players. However, the team will rely on returning starters Ryan Stowers (15.7 ppg) and Conlan (14.6).

“They are highly experienced guys. Having those two guys back at the wing, where they have good size, really helps. We’ll ask them to do a lot more than they’ve had to do in the past,” Quaker Valley coach Mike Mastroianni said. “We have a really good core of returning players. We have a good nucleus of seven seniors on this team that have been in the program for a number of years. Their work ethic and understanding of our program is at a high level. Their excitement for their senior year is at a good place.”

Senior Jackson Zernich, who was the team’s sixth man with some starts a year ago, brings experience along with senior Christian Johnston. Seniors Kyle Wolfe, Quinn Hill and Isaac Guss will see time in the backcourt. Junior K.C. Johns is at point guard. Junior John Weir and freshmen Adou Thiero and Jack Gardiner could see time.

“For those freshmen, they are guys who need some experience but have been practicing at a high level for us,” Mastroianni said. “We have good numbers at each position, and we’ll definitely play more guys this year.”

Quaker Valley had one of the WPIAL’s top offenses (68.3 ppg) last season. The Quakers hope to continue it this winter.

“I think it’ll be a little different from last year when we had Coletrane. I think we’ll have to spread out the scoring a lot more. I think we’ll need everyone to play a part in order to be successful,” Conlan said. “We love to run. We love to get out and get buckets. We’ll be a pretty good shooting team as well. That’ll help in our transition breaks.”

Quaker Valley wants to improve its defense, too.

“Out game plan going into the year is to try to lock down a little more on defense and tighten things up,” Mastroianni said. “I still think we’ll have the ability to play up and down the floor. With the caliber of guys we have and playing with more numbers, I think we could sustain it a little more this year. Last year, we were a little shorter on the bench at times.”

The Quakers look forward to another challenging run through Section 2 against Ambridge, Beaver, Blackhawk, Central Valley, Hopewell and New Castle.

“Our section is demanding. Coming out of our section gets you prepared for everything else in front of you,” Mastroianni said. “Our section will be very demanding with the tradition all the teams have and all the outstanding coaches.

“We have a good group. There are a lot of basketball guys who like being in the gym, which always makes for a good atmosphere. It’s a very dedicated group of guys.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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