North Xtra: Young North Catholic team getting on-the-job training

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They have perhaps the most postseason experienced player in the WPIAL in senior guard Lauren Wolosik.

In Molly Rottman, North Catholic has a coach who has seen more WPIAL playoff games, as a coach and a player, than nearly anyone else in the WPIAL.

Yet North Catholic is one of the youngest, if not the youngest, team left standing in the WPIAL postseason field.

It could be easy to overlook that when you walk into a gym and see Wolosik on the court, Rottman on the sidelines and the name North Catholic on the front of the jerseys. But while Wolosik has played in 22 playoff games in her four-year career, including three WPIAL finals, and Rottmann has coached in four consecutive WPIAL finals, North Catholic's 65-37 win against Frazier in the WPIAL first round Saturday was the first taste of playoff basketball for nearly every other player on the Trojanettes roster.

The results, however, hardly indicated that. Third-seeded North Catholic jumped out to a 15-0 lead on its way to an easy 65-37 victory against Frazier (10-12).

The team hardly acted its age during the regular season either, going 14-8 against a brutal non-section schedule and finishing 10-2 in Class A Section 2. North Catholic's only losses to Class A competition came to section rival and No. 1 seed Vincentian Academy.

Although it may be easy to forget about North Catholic's youth and focus on its talent, Rottmann is well aware of just how much younger her team is. A meticulous planner, Rottmann still watches plenty of video and learns everything there is to know about the opposition.

But unlike with some of her past veteran teams, Rottmann is now disseminating information a little differently.

"I have found with a group this young, sometimes less information is more," Rottmann said. "I still learn about the players and the offenses and defenses, but this year, we need to really worry about ourselves. I don't always give them all the information -- sometimes it is overload."

It was late Monday night, five days before North Catholic's quarterfinal matchup with No. 11 Cornell (12-10), and Rottmann was up watching video of the Raiders.

"They have two players averaging 15 points per game," Rottmann said. "They have two good-sized bodies underneath. We have our work cut out for us. Being as young as we are, there are no guarantees."

One of the few guarantees is that Wolosik, a 5-foot-10 guard, will get her points. In the playoff victory against Frazier she finished with 28 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds. She finished the regular season averaging 27.l points per game, making her the top scorer in Class A and the fourth-leading scorer among all WPIAL/City League players.

Wolosik, a resident of Brighton Heights, has committed to play at Central Connecticut, an NCAA Division I program, next season.

"[Wolosik] is playing really well," Rottmann said. "What I loved [against Frazier] was that she was finding the open kids. She was getting [double-teamed] and she had some bullet passes, her teammates were catching and finishing. She is going to score for us, but we need at least two other people in double digits in order to continue moving forward."

The Trojanettes got just that on Saturday with freshmen guards Abby Goetz and Mikaela Palmer scoring 17 and 12 respectively.

Other key contributors include sophomore guard Evelyn Brazil, junior guards Paige Kizior and Teresa Yanicko, sophomore forward Brooke Zangaro and sophomore guards Mia Palmer and Jessica Graff.

"We have had other players step up," Rottmann said. "This is the youngest team I can recall having. It has definitely been different, but those kids are really working hard and trying to step up and learning along the way.

"Due to our success and experience, sometimes we take a lot of things for granted. This is definitely a different year."



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