When someone roams the sidelines for as many games as a WPIAL, or frankly any other high school, basketball coach does, games slowly start to blend together and perhaps become less memorable.
Others, however, stand out for whatever reason and Quaker Valley boys' basketball coach Mike Mastroianni experienced one of those games last week, as his team defeated Avonworth in a Section 6-AA game Friday to give him his 350th career victory.
It is ultimately an honor that he cannot take sole credit for as he praised those who helped him reach it.
"Quite honestly, I wasn't even aware of it," Mastroianni said of the accomplishment. "I've been [coaching] for quite a while and I've been fortunate to have a lot of good assistant coaches."
Mastroianni is in his 21st season as a head coach, the past 14 of which have come at his alma mater, Quaker Valley, and he has a career record of 352-171, giving him a winning percentage of .673.
What's more important for him and his Quakers, he looks to have a strong, albeit young, team this season, one that has won nine of its first 12 games. Though it has won only two of its four section games, Quaker Valley has the best overall winning percentage of any team in Section 6 and is by far the stingiest defensively. The Quakers are giving up just 44.9 points per game, with no other team in that section coming within five points of that mark.
Mastroianni will get a good chance to add to his career win total in the coming weeks. Six of the Quakers' nine remaining regular-season games are against teams with losing records.
Beaver Falls' big win
Though games in the regular season do not carry nearly the same weight and importance that their postseason counterparts do, they do provide a proverbial measuring stick for where a team is at a given point in a season, with a particularly big win potentially giving a team significant momentum.
The Beaver Falls boys' basketball team collected one of those important wins last Friday as it cruised past New Brighton, 68-45, in a matchup of top-five teams in Class AA. The Tigers (9-2, 5-0) outscored the Lions (9-3, 3-2) by a 30-6 margin in the first quarter and from that point forward, the result was never seriously in doubt.
Senior guard Drew Cook led the way with 23 points and junior guard Elijah Cottrill, who also stars on the school's football team, added 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Beaver Falls is the top-scoring team in Section 2, averaging 69.1 points per game. The tests for the Tigers will not stop with the win against New Brighton -- they play at home Friday against Neshannock (10-1, 4-1), a team directly behind them in the section standings.
Banner day beyond the arc
There's such a thing as a hot shooting day and then there's what Chartiers Valley girls' basketball guard Jenna Devinney did last Friday. In her team's 64-28 victory against Peters Township, Devinney made seven 3-pointers en route to a 23-point performance that saw her nearly single-handedly outscore the opposing team.
"It feels great," Devinney said of getting on that kind of a shooting streak. "There's really no words I can say to describe the feeling when I barely miss anything."
The number of shots Devinney made was obviously impressive, but so was her percentage, as she made seven of the 10 3-pointers she attempted that game against the Peters Township zone, a defensive look that opponents seldom use against the sharp-shooter.
Getting it done on 'D'
At the top of the Class AA Section 6 girls' basketball standings are Beaver and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, with the two teams experiencing such success for a simple, easy-to-see reason: defense.
The pair are among the top teams in the entire WPIAL in points allowed per game, with the Bobcats (8-1, 5-0) giving up 27.1 points per game and the Chargers (9-2, 3-1) holding opponents to 27.5 points per game.
Since giving up 46 points to St. Joseph in a season-opening loss, Our Lady of Sacred Heart had not let an opponent score more than 35 points in a game until losing to Beaver, 41-34, Monday. Excluding a 55-point performance from Vincentian on Dec. 28, Beaver has limited opponents to 23 points per game this season.
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