McQuiston's scoring surge has Wildcats thinking playoffs

Shenango’s Colin McQuiston

Colin McQuiston is a lot of things at Shenango High School.

With a 4.1 GPA, he’s a member of the National Honor Society. On the basketball hardwood, McQuiston’s responsibilities have widened as the only returning starter from last year’s postseason team, not to mention his built-in leadership role as the team’s point guard. Now in his junior season, McQuiston is the go-to man for the Wildcats — coached by the point guard’s father, Bob McQuiston — and it’s only fitting his favorite current player is the Houston Rockets’ James Harden. 

Harden, the NBA’s reigning MVP, has been on an absolute tear the last month, as the left-hander has scored at least 30 points in 20 straight games. McQuiston, on the other hand, went over 30 points in a game for the fourth time on Friday. He leads the team with 19.8 points per game through Sunday and scored in double figures in 14 out of 15 games this year for the Wildcats, who came into the week at 5-10. McQuiston entered the week with 707 career points.

Last week, McQuiston was at his best, scoring 28 points in a win against Laurel and then dropping a career-high 32 points in Friday’s close loss to state-ranked Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. Against Laurel, McQuiston added 12 assists, and he pulled down seven rebounds against OLSH. For his performances, McQuiston is the Lawrence County High School Athlete of the Week sponsored by Washington Centre Physical Therapy and selected by the New Castle News sports staff.

“I thought he played well,” Bob McQuiston said of his son. “He looked to attack the rim. He was aggressive offensively. He didn’t make too many mistakes, took good shots. You have to have that out of your point guard. They have to make the right decisions to shoot when they’re supposed to shoot and pass when they’re supposed to pass, and I thought he did a good job with that.”

Shenango, which sported a 3-4 record in Section 3-2A play coming into the week, knows teams will try and eliminate McQuiston from the offense. On Jan. 13, when the Wildcats lost to Neshannock, McQuiston was often double-teamed, or the Lancers played a box-and-one defense, shadowing him all over the court. The strategy worked, as Neshannock won and held McQuiston to just six points, his lowest output of the year and the only time he’s been held below 12 points. When opponents try to take him away, McQuiston has confidence in his teammates to step up. 

“At times it’s frustrating, but I just have to rely on my teammates to step up and make plays and they’ve been doing that,” Colin said. “They’ve been doing a great job when they’ve been sending two guys at me and they’ve been making good plays all year.”

The coach said he and his son knew teams would focus on him and prepared for it over the summer.

“Our other guys played well and we didn’t need him to score that night (against Neshannock),” Bob McQuiston said, noting his son shot only a handful of times. “I thought he did a good job of not forcing bad shots and distributing the basketball. We’ve put some new wrinkles into the offenses and at times taking him off the point and bringing him off screens. We knew that was going to happen this year. We had talked about it this summer and in the offseason, we worked on stuff for that.”

Aside from living under the same roof as his coach and father, basketball doesn’t always just stay at the gym — “we try not to take it home but unfortunately there is some carryover. My wife (Wendy) has to be the level-headed one and send us both to our rooms, so to speak,” Bob McQuiston said — Colin got some pointers on how to handle different basketball situations during pickup basketball in the summer playing with and against the likes of Darryl Webb, the former Division II national player of the year at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Shenango High alumni Brandon Bennett and Terry Grossetti.

“Playing with older guys and players like him (Webb) has definitely helped me because they’re a lot stronger and know a lot about the game,” Colin said. “I get a lot of tips from the older guys about what to do in certain situations.

“He’s the best player I played with this summer. I’ve played with a lot of guys who are in college right now.”

With just seven regular-season games remaining before the possibility of the postseason, Bob McQuiston and Shenango’s strategy is simple: win the games the team should win and try to comes away with a couple on the road.

“We have to take care of the ones at home,” Bob McQuiston said. “We have to steal a couple on the road as well. You have to get a few road wins. In our section, Sewickley (Academy) and OLSH are one and two. Everyone else, I think, is pretty comparable.”

To Colin, the remaining schedule is something he feels the Wildcats can use to their advantage. 

“They’re all winnable. We just have to keep playing the way we’ve been playing.”

psirianni@ncnewsonline.com

Digital editor

Pete Sirianni is the News' digital editor. Previously, he worked at The Bradford (Pa.) Era. Sirianni is a 2016 IUP graduate, earning a degree in journalism and public relations. Contact him at psirianni@ncnewsonline.com or on Twitter at @PeterSirianni.

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