Quaker Valley breaks through for overtime win over rival New Castle
Overtime had not been overly kind to Quaker Valley’s boys basketball team this season.
That all changed Tuesday night as the Quakers held off New Castle for a 70-67 home win in a WPIAL Section 2-4A thriller.
“These past couple weeks have been tough,” Quaker Valley senior Ryan Stowers said. “Now that we came out with a big win, that’s huge for us.”
Recently, Quaker Valley (14-2 overall, 7-2 section) endured back-to-back section losses beyond regulation. The Quakers fell at Blackhawk, 70-69, in overtime and dropped a 72-67 home decision to Ambridge in double overtime. They survived another scare Friday when they held off Central Valley for a 49-47 win.
“It’s definitely great to get this one,” Stowers said. “We kind of regained the section and we kind of showed what we can do after having an off week against Blackhawk and Ambridge. We’re back now. We’ve learned from our mistakes, and we’re trying to be better, moving forward.”
The victory creates a three-way logjam for first in the section with Ambridge, New Castle and Quaker Valley all at 7-2.
“This was was a tremendous high school game. I said the same thing after the Ambridge game. I thought Ambridge just made a couple more plays, and we just made a couple more plays in this game,” Quaker Valley coach Mike Mastroianni said. “I think either game could have gone either way.”
The Quakers led for a majority of the contest. An 11-2 run to close the first quarter gave them a 20-15 lead at the buzzer. Quaker Valley used its transition game to push the lead to 14 points, 33-19, in the second, but the Red Hurricanes (13-4, 7-2) closed the gap to five, 38-33, at halftime.
Again, Quaker Valley started to pull away in the third and pushed its lead as high as 11 points, 44-33, but New Castle trimmed it to eight, 54-46 at the end of the frame.
“New Castle is such a high-level team. I am not sure anybody gets after it as well as them. They never go away. We tell our kids that their press is better in the second half than it is in the first half, and it’s pretty good in the first half,” Mastroianni said. “I thought we took care of the ball well tonight. We weren’t rebounding well — and they are a terrific rebounding team — but we didn’t turn it over much, which I thought was a big key.”
After an Adou Theiro bucket gave the hosts a 58-49 edge with 6:40 left in the fourth, the Red Hurricanes took over. Sheldon Cox and Demetris McKnight capped a 9-0 run with a pair of quick layups to knot the game at 58-all with 1:40 on the clock.
Danny Conlan’s free throw gave Quaker Valley a 61-60 edge with 31 seconds left. New Castle called a timeout with 13.8 seconds to go and Cox drew a foul with 1.9 seconds on the scoreboard. He made his first free throw, but missed the second and the game headed to overtime.
In the extra session, Stowers broke a 66-all tie with a pair of free throws with 1:02 left. Drew Cox split two free throws to trim New Castle’s deficit to 68-67. Stowers went back to the line with 23.5 seconds left and calmly swished both shots for a 70-67 buffer.
“He was very clutch,” Conlan said. “We work on free throws every day. Ryan kept his head and played really well.”
After a timeout with 16.2 seconds on the clock, the Red Hurricanes managed to get off a pair of 3-point shots, but neither found the mark and Quaker Valley held on for the win.
“It was great,” Conlan said. “We persevered.”
Sheldon Cox led all scorers with 29 points for New Castle. Stowers led the Quakers with 21, while Conlan finished with 19.
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.