South Xtra: Steel Valley lifted by batch of contributors

Brad Everett's high school basketball notebook

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Take a look at Steel Valley’s record, and you’ll see that it’s heavily disproportionate, with the Ironmen having won many more games than they’ve lost.

The imbalance ends there.

Steel Valley is off to a terrific start and its scoring balance and unselfish play is a big reason why.

The Ironmen (7-1, 2-1 in Class AAA Section 4) are off to their best start since beginning the 2007-08 season 8-1.

“I think this team right now is playing well as a unit,” coach Shawn McCallister said. “We have balanced scoring. We have five guys averaging double digits. It’s not all about one guy. There is lots of balance and the guys are being great teammates.”

Steel Valley is very athletic and has been equally effective putting points on the board with its quick guards getting to the basket or its sizable frontcourt doing damage down low. The Ironmen are averaging 70.4 points per game, ranking them second in Class AAA.

The starting five consists of 6-foot-5 junior forward Dom Keyes, 6-4 senior forward Ajan Smith, 6-0 junior guard Brandon Donovan, 6-0 senior guard Dorian Broadwater and 5-10 senior guard Derek Taylor.

Keyes leads the Ironmen in scoring (14 points per game) and rebounding (13), and his fellow starters are close behind. Smith averages 13 points, followed by Donovan with 11, and Broadwater and Taylor with 10 each.

Smith and Broadwater are the veterans. Smith has played on the varsity team since he was a sophomore and Broadwater since he was a freshman. They represent the two returning starters from last season’s team that went 12-9 and helped Steel Valley qualify for the playoffs for the fifth time in seven seasons.

If you want a player to watch with a lot of upside, keep an eye on Keyes, who is in just his second year of playing basketball. He has made great strides in a short time and has been a handful inside for opposing teams.

“He’s really improved,” McCallister said. “Dom’s a kid who is a very coachable young man. He just works for you. He has a longer body. He’s not a real emotional kid. He just plays through everything. He just constantly works on both sides.”

A quality bench is headlined by 6-8 junior forward Tyler Lewis and also includes 6-0 senior guard Jackson Majernik, 5-9 sophomore guard Ryan McCallister and 5-9 sophomore guard Kennedy Smith.

The lone blemish on Steel Valley’s record was a tough one to swallow. The Ironmen let a 14-point fourth-quarter lead slip away in a 69-64 overtime loss at Elizabeth Forward Dec. 13.

“We just needed to close out that game and we didn’t,” McCallister said. “It was a tough loss, especially in overtime. You learn some things from a loss, and one there is the fact that we have to close out.”

Section 4 is loaded with excellent teams including Elizabeth Forward (8-1), Steel Valley (7-1), Thomas Jefferson (7-1), and West Mifflin (5-2).

Steel Valley will end a nine-day layoff when it hosts West Mifflin Tuesday, and will then travel to Thomas Jefferson Friday.

Kaminsky for ‘3’

Serra Catholic’s Max Kaminsky was one of the WPIAL’s top 3-point shooters his sophomore and junior seasons. His senior season has been no different.

Kaminsky is once again filling the basket from long range, and ranks as one of the WPIAL leaders, having made 33 3-pointers in just eight games. He knocked down seven against Riverview and defending WPIAL Class A champion Vincentian.

Kaminsky, a 5-10 guard and former WPIAL individual golf champion, has made 166 3-pointers in his career.

Weekly watch

Here are a few boys games to keep an eye on this week:

Montour at Chartiers Valley, Friday, 7:30 p.m. — The first meeting between the two since Montour clipped Chartiers Valley to win the WPIAL Class AAA title last March. Many of the faces have changed, but the success has not. Chartiers Valley is 7-1 and Montour is 5-2. Both are 2-0 in Section 5, so the section lead will be on the line. Chartiers Valley dropped only two section games the previous two seasons, and both were against Montour.

Washington at Seton-LaSalle, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. — A huge matchup in Class AA Section 4. Top-ranked Seton-LaSalle (8-1, 3-0) has been as good as advertised. The Rebels have been outstanding defensively and own an eye-opening win against Gateway. Meanwhile, Washington (8-1, 3-0) has been a bit of a surprise. Its latest win was also its most impressive, a 61-59 upset of Elizabeth Forward.

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