North Xtra: Stepped-up offense boosts Hampton's arsenal

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Defense has been a staple of the Hampton girls basketball team in Mary Bukovac's eight years at the school. This year is no different and now Bukovac thinks her team has the offense to complement the stifling defense.

Through eight games the Talbots are 5-3 overall and 2-0 in Section 1-AAA. They are allowing a section-best 33.3 points per game but also scoring a section-best 48 points per game.

"Our offensive production has increased," Bukovac said. "We are a well-rounded team this year, more so than we have been in the past."

Hampton held Class AAAA schools Seneca Valley, Fox Chapel and Kiski Area to an average of 35 points per game. It also showed what it can do offensively, scoring 69 points against Vincentian, 67 against Highlands and 64 against Knoch.

Senior forward Sara Pilarski is the leader of the team. She averaged 12.6 points and 10 rebounds per game last season. This year she is averaging 15.9 points and 11.9 rebounds per game.

Pilarski has received a scholarship offer from Clarion University and is also receiving interest from Pitt-Johnstown and Grove City.

"Her footwork has improved this year," Bukovac said of Pilarski. "She has definitely become more of a rebounder and she scores off those rebounds. She has been able to knock down outside shots. We also use her to break the press because her ball handling has improved."

Pilarski scored 31 points and had 25 rebounds against Vincentian earlier this year.

Senior Brianna Intrieri runs the point for Hampton. The other starters are junior guard Caitlin Jameson, freshman guard Lexi Griggs and junior forward Jordan Busshaus.

Intrieri leads the team with three assists per game.

"Brianna brings leadership and experience," Bukovac said. "She is doing a real nice job controlling the ball and controlling the tempo."

Griggs is averaging 8.1 points per game and leads the team with 21 steals. Bukovac was well aware of Griggs even before she arrived on the high school scene. She coached Griggs in middle school.

"I kind of had an idea what type of player she was," Bukovac said. "She has made great strides since the time she was in seventh grade. She is just a great kid and a hard worker."

Hampton has lost three games but it has done so against a competitive schedule. It lost to Fox Chapel (8-1), Vincentian Academy (8-0) and Burrell (5-1).

Bukovac has been going 11 deep early in the season. She has received plenty of production from her bench especially from senior guard Julie DiBucci, junior forward Amanda Reese, junior guard Caroline Waldschmidt and sophomore guards Courtney Collins and Maddy Nelligan.

"We've had a lot of kids step up," Bukovac said. "We are rotating more kids than we have in the past. We are building experience before we get into section play."

Hampton visits Valley tonight in a section contest. It has a major section showdown with Mars Monday.

"Mars is obviously the team to beat," Bukovac said of the section. "That is always a big game for us. Any time you play them at their place it is going to be a battle. Kittanning is another team, they have kids who will go out there and battle every night and Freeport looks good on film."

Hampton and Mars split their two regular-season meetings last season and split the Section 1-AAA title.



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