A-C Valley boys' cagers look to take next step

This article is part of a continuing series previewing the Clarion County boys' basketball teams for the 2019-20 season.

By Ryan S. Pugh




In professional basketball, the current trend is for teams to build its roster around three players a ‘big three' in parlance.

The A-C Valley boys' basketball team has its own version of a ‘big three' and that could be the edge the Falcons need in the 2019-20 season.

The Falcons' triumvirate consists of seniors Eddie Stevanus and Russ Carr and junior Levi Orton.

Carr missed all of the 2018-19 seasons due to a leg injury he suffered during the previous football season. According to new Falcons' head coach Anthony McGarvey, Carr is fully recovered and ready for the 2019-20 season to tip off.

"As a freshman, he was basically only a varsity player," McGarvey said referring to Carr. "So losing him last year was a huge loss. He's a floor general and he has been since his freshman year."

Carr was a key contributor for the Falcons during the 2017-18 season helping A-C Valley to a District 9 Class A playoff bid.

McGarvey took over as head coach for the Falcons midway through last season after the sudden resignation of former Falcons' head coach Andrew Rapp. McGarvey served as junior varsity head coach under Rapp for four years so he feels his knowledge of the players will pay huge dividends.

"I know these guys," McGarvey said about the team. "I feel like I'm one step ahead of most of new coaches in the league right now. I know what the talent is. I know the ins and outs. I know the players personally."

Orton was the key to the Falcons offense a year ago totaling 20.3 points per game which was the fourth best scoring average in all of District 9 last season.

"I would like to say that I was shocked by what Levi did last year but that's kind of what I expected out of him," McGarvey said. "He stepped up on the offensive and defensive side last year. He played to the best of his ability no matter who was the opponent."

Orton almost averaged a double-double last season as he pulled down 9.1 rebounds per game. Orton also averaged 2.4 steals per game.

Stevanus did average a double-double a year ago for A-C Valley totaling 13.8 ppg and 10.2 rpg.

Seniors Cole Dehart and Austin Cratty and junior Eli Penny are in the running for the other two starting spots in the Falcons' starting five.

Penny averaged 4.3 ppg last season while Dehart averaged 3.6 ppg and Cratty averaged 2.1 ppg.

Matchups might be the key to determining who starts from game to game.

"Austin brings his speed and he has a great outside shot while Cole and Eli are lockdown defenders," McGarvey said regarding the players' positive attributes. "Cole can shoot the ball well and Eli is a penetrator."

Junior Broc Weigle could also see significant time on the floor for the Falcons. Weigle averaged 2.4 ppg last season.

Sophomores Gary Amsler, Logan Donathan and junior Riley Bauer will likely be key bench reserves for the Falcons.

There are high expectations surrounding the Falcons coming into 2019-20 but McGarvey wants to keep things simple.

"Our main goal right is to get to six wins because that was our win total last year," McGarvey said. "Our next goal is to get to 11 wins which would get us to .500 and get us into the playoffs."

McGarvey added, "Talking with people around the program and talking with some of the other coaches over the summer that know A-C Valley are already putting us on a pedestal. The kids know it but I keep reminding them, ‘you were a 6-16 team last year'."

McGarvey feels there is a key to his team finding success this season.

"These guys need to learn how to win," McGarvey said. "Last year our first five losses were by five points or less."

A-C Valley opens the season Dec. 6 hosting North East in the Hoops for Heroes Tip-Off.