Quaker Valley boys basketball seniors ready for their time
After finishing as the section runner-up for six straight seasons, the five seniors on the Quaker Valley boys basketball team are hoping this is the year the team can get over the hump and claim the Section 5-AA title.
Chris Conlan, Tyler Garbee, Tre’won Marshall, Clay Noyes and David Oliver bring plenty of experience with them to the team, as they have been on the varsity team together since their sophomore year — Conlan and Garbee since their freshman year. Conlan was the team’s leading scorer last year at 12 points per game, and his five rebounds per game were second on the team and the highest among returning players.
Of the five seniors, Oliver is the biggest unknown to the rest of the league. Various ailments limited him to playing just five games as a sophomore and four last season, but coach Mike Mastroianni is excited about the ways Oliver could contribute to the team this season, he said.
“I feel good,” Oliver said. “Senior year, I’m ready to go and put in the work, so it should be exciting.”
Conlan is the only one of the group that has started for each of the past two seasons. Making the adjustment to playing a larger share of the minutes will be key as the Quakers form their identity early in the season.
“When you’re younger, coach would give you one or two things to do at the highest level, but now that we’re seniors, we’re older, there are just more things added onto our trays,” Noyes said. “We have to compete harder all the time and get every other aspect of our game up to that high level as well.”
One clear advantage this senior class brings is its size. At 5-foot-10, Marshall is the only one of the group not over 6-3.
“We have a lot of big and quick guys, so that will be tough,” Garbee said. “Teams will have to put their biggest guy on someone, so it’s a matter of who do you want to let beat you.”
The Quakers hope that their team size will give them a rebounding advantage over most of the teams they face, unlike last year when the team was much more guard oriented. In addition to second-chance points, the added length should help them get out in transition more quickly as well, Marshall said.
It’s no secret that playing for Mastroianni means being ready to run at every possible opportunity, both in the games and at practice. At this point in their careers, the seniors will be counted on to be the ones leading by example when it comes to hustling.
“The seniors of the past have been phenomenal with leading,” said Garbee, who averaged 6.9 points and 2.6 rebounds per game last year. “You go in and just know this is what we have to do. The physical running pieces in general are always tough to get into, but we have Derek (Clark), one of the best trainers ever, who gets us into it. And then mentally, it’s just a matter of wanting to do it.”
In order to acclimate to the physical strain of playing at the varsity level for Quaker Valley, it’s important for the younger players to come to practice every day ready to work hard, Conlan said.
“That’s all you can do,” he said. “You need to show up ready to work and follow the older guys’ lead. We need to set a better example during practice and the games to start off fast and stick with fundamentals.”
The Quakers first official game is Dec. 5 against Mohawk in the QV Tip Off Tournament, but they scrimmaged against South Fayette and Moon on Tuesday and placed an emphasis on a strong defense.
“Defense is what made these Quaker Valley teams of the past very, very good,” Garbee said. “That’s the first test of a new team, us being able to go out and work against another team on the defensive end.”