West/North Xtra: Quaker Valley using all of its parts to win

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In some high school basketball programs, there occasionally can be a question about a team's cohesiveness and its ability to work together on a yearly basis.

For Mike Mastroianni and his Quaker Valley Quakers, that would not appear to be a concern.

Owners of a 10-1 overall record, the Quakers have a nice combination of returning talent with plenty of athletes who have excelled in other sports at the Leetsdale-based school.

Mastroianni is in his second stint as the Quakers' basketball coach. He coached there for eight years before taking a similar job at Bethel Park. Since he returned to Quaker Valley, he has been the Quakers' coach for seven years and he also is the school's athletic director.

"We had eight letter-winners coming back from a year ago," said Mastroianni, who guided the 2012-13 team to the WPIAL Class AA semifinals and an appearance in the PIAA Class AA tournament. "So, we knew we had plenty of experience, and we have players on our team who have been leaders in some of our other sports."

Experience is one thing. But having a team that's willing to work together is a concept that occasionally is a challenge. Mastroianni said that's not an issue with this team, a squad that is averaging 70.5 points per game and yielding just 45.5 points per game.

"This is a team that loves to share the ball, and they have a good understanding of what we expect," he said. "We like to run the ball out of our defense, but we can run the half-court if we have to. We knew going into the season we might be giving up more points than we normally do, but we wanted to play faster."

This is a team that has a deep bench and plenty of players who can score.

"We don't have a player averaging more than 10 points a game," he said. "But we have plenty of players who can score."

Point guard WinterFondi, a 5-11 senior, is averaging 10.4 points per game. Right behind him at 10 points a game is Chris Conlan, a 6-4 junior forward, who is averaging 10 points a game.

Other top scorers are 6-0 senior guard Qadir Taylor (9 ppg), 5-11 senior guard Christian Miller (8.2 ppg), 6-2 junior guard/forward Tyler Garbee (8 ppg), 6-4 senior center John Bernard (8 ppg) and 5-11 senior guard/forward Jake Trovato (5.4 ppg).

"It's a nice advantage to have," Mastroianni said. "The guys don't pay much attention to who is scoring the points. They are unselfish, share the ball and play well together. We can go 10 deep, and I consider Marshall, Trovato and Garbee, who come off the bench, to all be like a sixth man."

Mastroianni isn't prepared to say how far this team will go this season as 2014 has just begun. But he likes the fact that this team knows what it's like to compete in tournament situations in basketball and in other sports.

"There are some guys on the team who made it to the state [basketball] semifinals two years ago, and we have a couple of players who were on our baseball team who made it to the (2013) WPIAL semifinals and the PIAA semifinals," he said.

"I like the maturity level on this team. It's a team where you can engage them in some of our decisions, and it's almost like having some coaches on the floor. That's a valuable asset."

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