South Xtra: Steel Valley steps up its game in AAA section

BOYS BASKETBALL

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The only sport in which Steel Valley High School competes at the Class AAA level is boys' basketball.

The addition of a local charter school (Propel Andrew Street) to the Steel Valley enrollment pushed the Ironmen out of Class AA after last season, although the charter school has its own basketball team and does not contribute any players to the Steel Valley basketball team.

So far the Ironmen have felt right at home in Class AAA, starting the season 4-2, including a perfect 3-0 mark in Section 4-AAA.

They have defeated section foes Ringgold and Belle Vernon Area by an average of 27 points and got past Elizabeth Forward, 84-77.

Steel Valley has been doing this all with a younger roster after graduating eight seniors, including four starters from last season's team that went 9-9 overall, but missed the WPIAL playoffs by going 5-7 in Section 3-AA, good for fifth place.

"The wins have built confidence for our kids," Steel Valley coach Shawn McCallister said.

"Most of our kids only played JV minutes last year, so there have been some growing pains for us early on in the season. They are starting to get adjusted to the speed of the game."

Junior guard Ajan Smith is the team's lone returning starter.

"He is a good swing player," McCallister said. "He is a guy who gets up and down the court. He is playing well. We look to him for experience."

The other starters are junior point guard Dorian Broadwater, senior shooting guard Kevin Ducar, senior forward Tyrieq Patton and sophomore center Tyler Lewis.

Sophomore guard Connor Stevens and freshman guard Ryan McCallister, the coach's son, see playing time off the bench.

Smith is the leading scorer on the team, Lewis is the leading rebounder.

In the 84-77 win against Elizabeth Forward, Broadwater poured in 29 while Smith added 23 and Lewis and Patton scored 13 and 12, respectively.

With Smith at 6 feet 4 and Lewis at 6-8, the Ironmen do have some height this season.

"We are a little longer than we have been," McCallister said. "We are by no means a huge team. Really, our strength is probably defensively, as a team we have been playing defense very well."

Steel Valley limited Carrick to 34 points, Ringgold to 35 and Belle Vernon to 40.

The Ironmen are 3-0 in section play, tied with neighboring rival West Mifflin for the lead. But McCallister knows the true section tests lie ahead. West Mifflin (3-0) and Thomas Jefferson (2-0) also are off to fast starts in section play.

"We are new to the section but as I get out and watch teams, you see West Mifflin and Thomas Jefferson are two quality teams," McCallister said. "Elizabeth Forward is a good basketball team. It is a good section all around.

"When you look at West Mifflin and Thomas Jefferson, they have a lot of experience and good guard play. There are going to be good competitive games."

Steel Valley is playing in the Charleroi Christmas Tournament this week. It won the tournament title last year.

This year, in addition to the Ironmen the tournament features California, Bentworth, Belle Vernon, Southmoreland, Yough and host Charleroi.

The Ironmen get a first-round bye then play the winner of Wednesday's game between Belle Vernon and California tonight at 7:30. Fifth-place and third-place consolation games and the championship will be played Friday.

After the Charleroi tournament Steel Valley returns to action on Jan. 3 when it plays host to Class AAAA Hollidaysburg from District 6.

The only sport in which Steel Valley High School competes at the Class AAA level is boys' basketball.

The addition of a local charter school (Propel Andrew Street) to the Steel Valley enrollment pushed the Ironmen out of Class AA after last season, although the charter school has its own basketball team and does not contribute any players to the Steel Valley basketball team.

So far the Ironmen have felt right at home in Class AAA, starting the season 4-2, including a perfect 3-0 mark in Section 4-AAA.

They have defeated section foes Ringgold and Belle Vernon Area by an average of 27 points and got past Elizabeth Forward, 84-77.

Steel Valley has been doing this all with a younger roster after graduating eight seniors, including four starters from last season's team that went 9-9 overall, but missed the WPIAL playoffs by going 5-7 in Section 3-AA, good for fifth place.

"The wins have built confidence for our kids," Steel Valley coach Shawn McCallister said.

"Most of our kids only played JV minutes last year, so there have been some growing pains for us early on in the season. They are starting to get adjusted to the speed of the game."

Junior guard Ajan Smith is the team's lone returning starter.

"He is a good swing player," McCallister said. "He is a guy who gets up and down the court. He is playing well. We look to him for experience."

The other starters are junior point guard Dorian Broadwater, senior shooting guard Kevin Ducar, senior forward Tyrieq Patton and sophomore center Tyler Lewis.

Sophomore guard Connor Stevens and freshman guard Ryan McCallister, the coach's son, see playing time off the bench.

Smith is the leading scorer on the team, Lewis is the leading rebounder.

In the 84-77 win against Elizabeth Forward, Broadwater poured in 29 while Smith added 23 and Lewis and Patton scored 13 and 12, respectively.

With Smith at 6 feet 4 and Lewis at 6-8, the Ironmen do have some height this season.

"We are a little longer than we have been," McCallister said. "We are by no means a huge team. Really, our strength is probably defensively, as a team we have been playing defense very well."

Steel Valley limited Carrick to 34 points, Ringgold to 35 and Belle Vernon to 40.

The Ironmen are 3-0 in section play, tied with neighboring rival West Mifflin for the lead. But McCallister knows the true section tests lie ahead. West Mifflin (3-0) and Thomas Jefferson (2-0) also are off to fast starts in section play.

"We are new to the section but as I get out and watch teams, you see West Mifflin and Thomas Jefferson are two quality teams," McCallister said. "Elizabeth Forward is a good basketball team. It is a good section all around.

"When you look at West Mifflin and Thomas Jefferson, they have a lot of experience and good guard play. There are going to be good competitive games."

Steel Valley is playing in the Charleroi Christmas Tournament this week. It won the tournament title last year.

This year, in addition to the Ironmen the tournament features California, Bentworth, Belle Vernon, Southmoreland, Yough and host Charleroi.

The Ironmen get a first-round bye then play the winner of Wednesday's game between Belle Vernon and California tonight at 7:30. Fifth-place and third-place consolation games and the championship will be played Friday.

After the Charleroi tournament Steel Valley returns to action on Jan. 3 when it plays host to Class AAAA Hollidaysburg from District 6.

hsbasketball


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