West/North Xtra: Ex-UConn star is new Quakers coach

GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL

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Jill Brumbaugh still has a few questions she plans to answer before the start of high school basketball season.

Some pretty basic ones, in fact, like ...

"Which teams and some of the players are in our section?" she joked. "That's OK, though. I still have six months to work on that."

Hired June 11 to take over the girls varsity and middle school basketball programs at Quaker Valley, Brumbaugh recently moved to Center Township in Beaver County and plans on spending some of her offseason studying up on the type of competition she'll face in the WPIAL this winter.

"It's a learning process right now, but it goes both ways," Brumbaugh said. "I may not know what to expect with opposing teams and the coaches around here, but they don't know about me, either."

Some local coaches, however, may recall her college career at the University of Connecticut.

Brumbaugh was a four-year starter for the Huskies and played for legendary coach Geno Auriemma in the late 1980s. As a point guard, she led Connecticut in assists four consecutive years.

"I just love the game of basketball and I'm excited about this opportunity," Brumbaugh said. "I hope to bring a winning tradition to Quaker Valley. This is a great school that has great athletics and great academics."

Brumbaugh is a graduate of Claysburg-Kimmel High School and member of the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame. She coached at her alma mater from 2010-12 and led the Bulldogs to consecutive playoff appearances.

"I am excited about getting back into coaching," said Brumbaugh, who works selling health insurance. "This is a good opportunity to help the kids and hopefully be a positive influence in their lives."

Brumbaugh plans to stress defensive play this season as well as incorporate a coaching style she learned from her Hall of Fame college coach.

"The main thing I learned from Geno is that you learn to prepare during practice," Brumbaugh said. "Once you're prepared, you learn to adjust to certain situations during the actual games."

Brumbaugh replaces Jim Dudas, who coached Quaker Valley for four years before resigning at the end of last season. Under Dudas, the Quakers captured the program's first section championship in 31 years by winning the Section 6-AA crown in 2011.

Realignment in the WPIAL moved Quaker Valley up to Class AAA last season. Behind senior point guard Sierra Perlik, who averaged 19.3 points, the Quakers went 8-4 in Section 5-AAA and finished second behind eventual WPIAL and PIAA champion South Park.

Quaker Valley posted a 13-10 overall record last year, losing to Hampton in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs.

"Right now, we're working on rounding up the girls during the summer," Brumbaugh said.

"That's the hard part when you come in after the school year [ends], but we have a nice group of about eight freshmen coming in.

"We're going to be solid defensively. We're going to be good on defense and work on scoring off transition offense. I think we were pretty small last season, so we hope to have some size this year."

With an entire summer and fall to prepare for the upcoming season, Brumbaugh also hopes to focus on what she believes will be the most important factor for her new team.

"We're going to need to rely on team harmony and team chemistry," she said. "We're going to start on that now."

hsbasketball


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