Thursday, December 9, 2010

Girls basketball team capsules

Class AAAA
Section 4 is widely regarded as the best in the WPIAL, and possibly the state, for several years and section favorite Mt. Lebanon is a two-time defending state champion. Canon-McMillan finished at the other end of the standings and the Big Macs won one section game the past two years.
Frank Zebrasky - the C-M baseball coach - takes over for Mike Brodnick and he's no stranger to the program having been Brodnick's assistant for years. C-M returns several lettermen but success hinges on getting increased scoring from others than senior guard Emily Hansen.

Peters Township
The Indians surprised some by reaching the WPIAL semifinals, which was comprised entirely of Section 4 teams. Junior guard Merissa Morgan displayed a knack for the big play in PT's playoff run, which ended in the first round of the PIAA playoffs.

Class AAA
The hard-luck Rams couldn't stay healthy last year for head coach Nick Mandich as top players Alina Selby and Alana Resanovich each suffered season ending injuries. It derailed what looked to be a promising season.
Ringgold competed in Section 4-AAAA and the Rams should find dropping to Section 4-AAA to their liking. A total of seven players are 5-9 or taller, including 5-10 combo guard/forward Jamie Melzer and 6-4 center Emily Schmidt.

The only holdover from the previous Section, McGuffey is coming off a second consecutive playoff appearance despite winning seven games. The Highlanders have more natural rivals in Trinity and South Fayette in the new layout and return junior guard Jocelyn Lucsko, who averaged 12 points and improved as the season progressed.

South Fayette
Following two straight successful runs in the WPIAL Class AA playoffs, South Fayette advanced to the PIAA quarterfinals a year ago. This year, the Lions are moving up just like the boys team. Also like the boys, the girls figure to contend for a playoff berth. Senior Lizzy King is a key holdover from both of those playoff teams, along with junior Erika Ford.

After years of competing for WPIAL Class AAAA playoff berths and even reaching the state playoffs, Trinity struggled the past two cycles in the state's highest classification so this move comes at a good time for the Hillers. With six home games to start the season, senior Brianna Hollick will be counted on to lead a balanced group of contributors.

Class AA
Something unusual happened last year. The Prexies failed to win their section for the first time in nine years. This year, Washington figures to contend in Section 4 thanks to strong play of senior Aujuwa Moore, who can play in the post or run the offense if needed.

The Bearcats finished at the bottom of the section last year and lost three starters but, with nine returning letterwinners, improved play is the expectation. Several members of Bentworth's PIAA -qualifying softball team are on the roster, including Jessica Dorazio, who scored 11.5 ppg last year.

The Bulldogs lost O-R Player of the Year Megan Sowers to graduation and several key members from a team that won Section 5. Sharp-shooting guard Anna Shashura provides reliable scoring but is part of a group of five players who are seniors or juniors.

The Blue Devils missed out on their first WPIAL playoff appearance since 1998 by one game a year ago. With only two returning lettermen, Burgettstown fields the section's least experienced team but Melissa Phillis (10.5 ppg) and Sarah Bielecki are solid building blocks.

The Cougars finished third in Section 5 last year and return a pair of solid seniors in post player Morgan Iacovino and point guard Chaniece Tarpley. When Charleroi plays well, junior Shannon Flament usually has a good game.

The Raiders didn't win a game in Class AAA last year and have been in a down cycle for several years. A move to Class AA and first-year head coach John Van Meter could provide spark.

Class A
Fort Cherry
The youthful Rangers may have been a year ahead of schedule in 2010, as they claimed the team's first section title since 2005. That previous team made a run to the PIAA Class AA playoffs. These Rangers hope to do the same in Class A.
Led by junior forward Beka Bellhy (pictured) and WPIAL javelin champion Jessie Merckle, Fort Cherry brings back the majority of its talent from last year for veteran head coach Bob Miles. The Rangers are favored to win Section 3, which is loaded with young, competitive teams.
The Eagles finished 13-7 last year and qualified for the WPIAL playoffs for the ninth time in head coach Jim Matalik's 10 years. Year 11 could be a good one with 10 returning lettermen and four returning starters, including Amanda Temple (15.5 ppg) and Olivia English.

The Mikes have become a fixture in the WPIAL Class A playoffs, as they made their sixth consecutive appearance last year. With four starters back, making a run is this year's goal. Sophomores Morgan Berardi and Anna Cree are two of Section 3's top players.

Head coach Veronica Sansom engineered one of the area's better turnarounds in 2010 as she molded a youthful team, one with only one senior, into a group that made the Bucs' first playoff appearance since 2004. With athletes like sophomore guard Tori Foster, C-H has its eyes on a section championship.
Wendy Dickerson, the second leading scorer in Greene County last year, returns for her senior season and her presence could help the Maples improve on last year's two wins.

The Rockets made significant progress last year under first-year head coach Ellen Hildebrand. J-M won six games and return several key contributors, including Mariah Hildebrand.
West Greene
Jim Romanus returns for his 27h year as a head coach and his third season with the West Greene girls. All five starters return for the Pioneers, led by Cathy Mason - the team's lone senior.

Kristina Wagner and Morgan Moluski were a dynamic one-two punch for the Trojans but both graduated, leaving this WPIAL playoff qualifier in the capable hands of sophomore point guard Courtnee McMasters.

Last year, Monessen fielded an inexperienced roster and a new head coach in Gina Naccarato, though the former Greyhounds standout was hardly a stranger to the team as one of Major Corely's assistant coaches.
Monessen didn't miss a beat as the Greyhounds won Section 4 behind the strong play of Geena Schrader and Mariah Ward, who are both back and among the top players in Class A. The Greyhounds return all five starters from last year, a group that reached the WPIAL semifinals.

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