West/North Xtra: Versatility helps Quakers excel on court

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As a three-year starting goalkeeper for the Quaker Valley soccer team, Winter Fondi is used to making saves.

He saved the Quakers Saturday.

Fondi scored a bucket in the closing seconds to keep Quaker Valley's basketball season alive with a 42-40 victory against Richland in the first round of the PIAA Class AA playoffs.

The victory advanced the Quakers to the second round and set up a meeting against WPIAL rival Aliquippa Wednesday night at Moon Area High School.

Fondi, the team's starting point guard, is one of a number of multi-sport athletes on the Quakers roster.

"It's really the strength of our team -- the majority of our guys in the rotation play multiple sports," Quaker Valley coach Mike Mastroianni said. "The success they've had in numerous other sports has helped on the basketball floor."

Fondi won a WPIAL title in soccer as a junior and was the team's captain this past season.

The Quakers' football team had its best season in nearly 30 years and three of the basketball team's starters -- Jake Trovato, John Bernard and Chris Conlan -- as well as reserves Tre'won Marshall and Amos Luptak, were contributors on the gridiron.

Trovato was also the captain of Quaker Valley's lacrosse team last spring, when the Quakers finished as the WPIAL Division II runner-up.

The Quakers fifth starter, Christian Miller, and sixth man, Tyler Garbee, were starters on the baseball team last spring that lost just two games -- both to Beaver Area in the WPIAL final and PIAA semifinal. Garbee was the team's pitching ace.

"Maybe they don't have as much game experience in basketball because they are playing other sports, but they've had a lot of experience of playing sports in competitive environments," Mastroianni said.

"And a lot of times they are captains or leaders for their teams. They may have a different role for us, but they still have those leadership qualities."

Mastroianni, who is also Quaker Valley's athletic director, said he tries to make it as easy as possible for his athletes to juggle multiple sports, especially in the offseason.

"We do the same things as other teams, but we may have different guys there at different times based on what sports are going on," Mastroianni said. "But the guys make every effort to be at the workouts, and in the summer, we're usually all together and it works out well.

"I realize they're going to have workouts for other sports, so we try to arrange our schedule around other sports. We don't want to put our players in a position where they have to make a choice about what to attend."

Although the Quaker players may not have as much time to bond on the basketball court as some other teams, the time they have spent together across other sports has had a positive effect on the basketball team's chemistry.

"It's a tight-knit group," Mastroianni said. "Over the years, they crossed over in many different sports and their chemistry bodes well for how we play. We play well together and guys are used to playing in big moments. It's an advantage."

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