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Pleasant Valley boys hoping size leads to success

Speed kills.

But size can be just as devastating.

A combination of both could help the Pleasant Valley boys’ basketball team end its postseason drought and return to the District 11 playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 season.

“We can throw the ball inside this year. We have that presence,” said Bears head coach Matt Gould. “Mike Duviella, he’s a junior, he’s 6-6. He keeps getting bigger every time I look at him. And then we have Andrius (Harrison)-Gaddist, he’s 6-4 and athletic. He’s another junior.

“So we have that, and we’re long. We can get out on the wings and we can guard. We can get up full-court, and use our size this year, where, in years past, we really didn’t have that. We had … guards, where you just literally play five guards and you just run up and down the court. We can do some different things this year.”

With a roster that features five players listed at least 6-3, Pleasant Valley has a potentially deep frontcourt ready-made for the rigors of the rugged Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.

In addition to Duviella (center) and Harrison-Gaddist (power forward), senior Noah Neubert (small forward/6-3), junior Deshawn Scarboro (guard/6-3) and sophomore Sebastian Piszczatowski (center/6-5) provide a dynamic that can change the game on offense or defense.

“It definitely makes it easier,” said Gould. “We still need to rebound; we still need to defend. But, we can, instead of having all five guys on the defensive glass, we can maybe leak somebody out, and get easy buckets, doing it that way, and not always have to be working for a layup. We can just get a layup.”

Guard Isaiah Howard returns after leading the team with 11.50 points per game as a junior. Howard is eager to help the Bears improve on their 7-15 overall record (2-13 EPC) from a year ago.

“My expectation is just to work hard, basically,” said Howard. “We had a rough season last year … it wasn’t a good record. But we just gotta come out and work together, and play strong this year.”

Howard will likely take on an even greater role to help PV offset the losses of Elijah Munford (7.00 ppg.), Chris Barker (6.61 ppg.), Justin Richardson (6.45 ppg.) and Jaison Robinson (4.77 ppg.) from a squad that averaged 48.27 points per game a year ago.

“I just want to lead the team, lead by example, lead the younger guys,” said Howard. “And just go over .500, basically.”

While the starting rotation might vary from game-to-game, expect seniors Valentino Rosario (guard), Collin Stivala (point guard), Brent Beck (forward) and Jihad Burks (forward), along with juniors Ashton Smith (guard), Michael Rosario (guard)and Jack Robinson (point guard) to see increased playing time this season, while also providing veteran leadership.

Seeking his first district playoff berth since taking over the program in 2014-15, Gould is eager to see what this year’s group is capable of.

“Last year, we took a step forward. We were 7-15, it was better than the year before,” said Gould. “But, ultimately, our goal is to come out and compete in the North, get a playoff spot in the EPC, that would be our first one since the league was created, and then go from there into districts.”

Members of the Pleasant Valley boys basketball team for the 2017-18 season include, front row from left, Manager Emma Evans, Collin Stivala, Valentino Rosario, Jack Robinson, Isaiah Howard, Ashton Smith, Brent Beck, Michael Rosario, Managers Cara Deegan and Kalleigh West; back row, Assistant Coach Chris Pachuta, DeShawn Scarboro, Sebastian Piszczatowski, Andrius Harrison-Gaddist, Michael Duviella, Noah Neubert, Jihad Burks, Assistant Coach Greg Duff, Head Coach Matt Gould. Scan this photo with the Prindeo app to see a video. PATRICK MATSINKO/TIMES NEWS