Colts' Yaich named All-State
STEVE SHINKO/TIMES NEWS FILEPHOTO Marian's Matt Yaich was named third team All-State in Class A.
Matt Yaich definitely saved his best for last.
While the Marian senior, who's battled through numerous injuries during his career, turned in a solid regular season, it was his performance in the postseason that set him apart from most of his peers.
Not only did the 6-4 senior lead his team to the Schuylkill League finals, but he was also the force behind the Colts' run to a District 11 Class A championship and a berth in the state playoffs.
Yaich, who averaged 14.55 points and seven rebounds per game in 2009-10, stepped things up a notch when it counted most. In Marian's seven playoff contests the frontcourt player averaged 16.57 ppg including three games of 20+ points. His season-high of 28 points came in the district title game against Pius X.
That kind of effort not only earned success for his team, but it also made him known throughout the region.
It also made him known among the statewide panel that selects the Pennsylvania All-State Basketball teams, as they named him to the Class A Third Team.
"Matt's been getting a lot of local recognition, but to get it on the state level is the ultimate for him," said head coach Mick Stefanek. "It's a great accomplishment for him and a great accomplishment for our program.
"A big part of the recogniton Matt received was for what he did in the postseason. He had a great three-game run in districts and followed that with two good games in states. He played his best down the stretch when it mattered most and when more people were paying attention."
Yaich opened the year strong but was forced to the bench just three games into the season. After missing seven games due to a sprained knee, he returned to the lineup and bolstered a squad that went on to post a perfect 13-0 mark in Division 3 of the Schuylkill League.
"The knee injury was just another setback for him in his career," said Stefanek, whose team posted a 23-6 record. "He's battled through a number of problems. He was positive and upbeat when he couldn't play although I'm sure it was killing him inside that he couldn't be on the court.
"I sensed when he went down that the rest of the players were unsure what would happen next. There were a lot of unknows, including how long he'd be out. To their credit, the other guys put together a nice stretch and when he came back it was like, 'Here we go.'"
Yaich reeled off seven straight double figure games and finished with 10+ points in 19 of his 22 starts.
He also became the first player under Stefanek to receive all-state honors.
"I hope everybody appreciates what he's done the past three years," said the 11-year mentor. "It's a neat thing for him and for his family. Matt's goal this year was to go out as a district champion and that's a process that started for him and his teammates in April as a travel team.
"He's a quiet leader and when he's on the court everybody just seems to play more comfortable and with more confidence. He's also set a great example for the younger players. They know he's gotten where he has because of his hard work and dedication."