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Westminster’s Siroki breaks down Valley-heavy roster

BEAVER TOWNSHIP — The Westminster Titans basketball team visits YSU on December 18, a game that will give head coach Kevin Siroki an idea where his Division III squad stands as they near the midway point of their season.

With seven of 16 players this year and all three assistant coaches hailing from the Mahoning Valley, playing in front of hometown fans will be a bonus for all.

Currently in his 10th season as the Titans’ head coach, Siroki told the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s meeting at Avion Banquet Center that the players with Mahoning Valley and area roots remain a major reason why Westminster was tabbed as the pre-season favorite in the President’s Athletic Conference.

“A couple years ago we had a 10 point lead on the Penguins heading to halftime but couldn’t hang on,” Siroki said. “Coach [Jerrod] Calhoun is a great coach and person, his teams test us and as a Division III team we want that from a Division I opponent. Plus, it helps us in recruiting.”

In nine previous campaigns, Siroki has one conference championship to his credit while his team has played in the title game two of the past three seasons.

The Titans are off to a 3-1 start thus far with their next game set for December 1 when they play host to Washington and Jefferson College.

The local players dotting Siroki’s roster include Andrew Clark (Springfield Local), Tyler James (Warren JFK), Reese Leone (West Branch), twins Anthony and Daniel Ritter (South Range) and Jordan Zupko (Mineral Ridge), each of whom hails from the Mahoning Valley.

Russell Kwiat (Neshannock) is a native of New Castle and Lawrence County in Pennsylvania.

Girard’s Austin O’Hara is currently rehabbing his hip after undergoing surgery and is lost for the season but has three years of eligibility remaining when he returns.

James, Leone and both Ritter’s are currently starters for Siroki’s squad, Clark and Zupko the sixth and seventh players, respectively, off the bench with Kwiat eyeing playing time as the season progresses.

“Tyler is a transfer from Penn State-Shenango, runs the floor well and is an excellent shooter, especially from three-point range. He rebounds and is a huge presence defensively as a shot blocker,” Siroki added.

“Dan was a walk-on at YSU, earned league first-team honors last year and is averaging nearly 21 points this season as a fifth-year senior.

“Anthony has had a great start to his season, is a player who goes all out whether on offense or defense and as a former point guard, I appreciate Reese’s leadership running our team at point. He’s our leader on the court, currently leads both the team and PAC in scoring and was named freshman of the year in both the conference and region a year ago.

“Andrew can shoot, rebound and at 6’5, is currently averaging four blocks a game to rank in the top five in the nation. Jordan is a force for us off the bench, the all-time leading scorer at Mineral Ridge High School and a player who can hit from anywhere on the court, especially from behind the arc.

“Russell will help us down the line as will Austin, once he fully recovers from labrum surgery.”

Siroki’s entire staff hails from the Mahoning Valley and includes Brian Danilov of Campbell, formerly the head coach of state champion Campbell Memorial (1993), Ursuline and Cardinal Mooney, Hartford native and former West Virginia University star, Dale Blaney, and graduate assistant Dylan O’Hara, Austin’s brother and a native of Girard.

“Our staff, in my opinion, is one of the very best assembled at the college level,” Siroki noted.

“Brian knows more basketball than anyone, Dale is a former professional player who was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers and has played the game at the highest level of college while Dylan was a great player for us and the PAC player of the year two seasons ago.”

Siroki also appreciates his team’s work away from the court, especially in the classroom setting.

“As a team our grade point average is 3.3 overall and that is quite impressive,” Siroki said. “We appreciate the fact that the local players have played a big part in resurrecting of our program. We will continue recruiting them with the staff already keeping their eyes out for area players to complete our next couple recruiting classes.”

Next Monday, Kevin Brogan, director of marketing for Hollywood Gaming and Mahoning Valley Race Course, will serve as guest speaker.

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