Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Waynesburg's Stoner a Rock-Solid Player

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Waynesburg's Stoner a Rock-Solid Player

Article excerpt

Nate Stoner conceded he put a little too much pressure on himself coming into this season.

There was a good reason. A senior at Waynesburg Central High School, Stoner was the lone returning starter from a team that went 17-7 and competed in the WPIAL playoffs a year ago. Seven players from that squad graduated in June, meaning Stoner, the Raiders' leading scorer in 2003-04, expected to be even more of a go-to guy this season.

"I was the only returning starter, so I felt I had to do everything," said Stoner, a 6-foot-4 guard/forward.

"But more guys have started to step up, and now I know I don't have to do everything. I think the pressure built, but now I realize I don't have to press too much. I can let the game come to me."

Stoner is a veteran, a three-year starter who got significant minutes as a freshman reserve. Going into yesterday's Section 4- AAA game with South Park, he was averaging almost 18 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots per game this season. He needed 21 points to reach 1,000 for his career.

He was doing all that despite opponents keying on him. From the box-and-one to the one-three-chase to the double-team, Stoner sees it all.

"He has an 'X' on his back," said Mark Stoner, Waynesburg's coach and Nate's father. "Everybody's gunning for him. Every team we've faced has thrown every junk defense imaginable at us."

The three games preceding yesterday's, Stoner scored 21, 22 and 25 points. Not coincidentally, his turnaround coincided with that of his team.

The Raiders (8-7 overall, 5-2 in section through Friday) began the season 0-4, then won eight of 11. They took a four-game winning streak into yesterday's contest.

"The kids are starting to learn their roles," Mark Stoner said. "They are working their way into it and they're starting to get more comfortable."

Senior guard Anthony Bocchini has been an ideal complement to Stoner, running the point when Stoner is playing inside and going down low when Stoner is on the perimeter. …

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