West Xtra: West Allegheny QB runs option on floor
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While quarterbacking the West Allegheny High School football team to a WPIAL Class AAA championship this fall, Andrew Koester still tried to find time a few days each week to work on his basketball game.
The work has paid off so far this season, as Koester is averaging nearly 20 points per game (299 in 15 games) for the Indians (8-7, 3-5 in Class AAA Section 2 after Tuesday's loss to Beaver).
"Most think the toughest thing is getting in basketball shape, but it's really the skill transition that takes time getting back," West Allegheny coach Josh Bears said. "But Andrew found time before school or after football to get into the gym three to four times a week to get ready for the season. So the transition hasn't been as bad for him as it usually is for players [making that switch]."
Bears said it is rare for a player to put in that type of time while playing another sport, but that Koester is a rare type of player.
"We get a lot of kids who play football and basketball who want to be in the gym, but it's tough to find the time," Bears said. "And I don't really try to get involved or tell them what to do, because I want them to concentrate on football and being successful.
"But Andrew wouldn't think of doing it any other way. I never had a conversation with him about it. He's just a rare kid. I forget sometimes he's just a sophomore. He's so mature."
Koester was the football team's starting quarterback, completing 56 of 119 passes for 907 yards and six toughdowns this past season as the Indians went 12-2, shared the Parkway Conference title with Central Valley and Montour and won the WPIAL title.
The work Koester has put in has made him a matchup nightmare for opposing teams. At 6 feet 4, he can play in the post and hit the glass. But he also possesses the ability to play on the wing and handle the basketball.
"I just try to do whatever the team needs me to do," Koester said. "If they want me to play inside, or play outside, I'll do whatever I can to help the team win."
That even includes running the offense as a point guard.
"There are times when we'll move [point guard] Collin Charlebois to the wing and put Andrew at point guard and have him break pressure," Bears said. "He can play all five spots and excel at every one of them."
Opposing teams have tried to limit Koester and his teammate, Mike Miara, this season by throwing some junk defenses at the Indians, such as a triangle-and-two and box-and-one.
But Bears said Koester is so good at the mental aspect of the game that he is able to figure out the best way to attack whatever defense the opposition throws at West Allegheny.
"He's gifted athletically, but it's the mental aspect that sets him apart," Bears said. "We'll talk during timeouts and sometimes even on the court we'll use hand signals to figure out the best way to get him the ball. He knows how to expose defenses."
It helps that Koester grew up around basketball. His father, Bob, was the all-time leading scorer at Franklin Regional when he left in the mid-1980s and went on to play at Xavier University.
But Koester said he has bettered his father in their recent one-on-one games.
"I think he's scared to play me now," Koester said jokingly.
But it's no joke for WPIAL players who have to guard Koester, who still has more than two years to play in the league.
First Published January 24, 2013 12:00 am