2013-14 WPIAL Class AA Girls Basketball Preview

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SECTION 1 

Team to beat

Burrell: Last season, the Bucs made the WPIAL Class AA semifinals for the first time since 1994 and also won a pair of state playoff games. Expectations will be even greater this year with the return of all five starters, including junior all-section point guard Sydney Bordonaro (14.2 ppg) and 6-foot sophomore center Natalie Myers, who averaged a double-double as a freshman.

Contender

Ford City: The Sabers return senior all-section forward Allyson Cujas (14.8 ppg) and junior guard Christina Davis (9.1 ppg) from last season's playoff team.

Others

Apollo-Ridge: Former Elderton coach Jim Callipare takes over a Vikings team that hasn't made the playoffs since 2010 but returns senior forward Ashley Emminger (12.7 ppg).

Deer Lakes: The Lancers won 20 games and advanced to the WPIAL quarterfinals last season, but have just one returning senior, Christine Grzybek, and must replace graduated starters Becca Babincak and Nichole and Danielle Kearns.

Leechburg: The Blue Devils went winless last season and have won only two section games since 2007.

West Shamokin: The Wolves qualified for the postseason last season, but must find a way to replace the production of all-section forward Jill Glover (18.7 points per game).

SECTION 2

Team to beat

Neshannock: The Lancers return their top two players in junior Madison McHale (16.8 points per game) and junior Tayler Grybowski (8.6) from a team that finished fourth in the section and won a WPIAL playoff game last season.

Contenders

Beaver Falls: The Tigers must replace all-section guard Ayana Vaughn (17.8 ppg), but return a second-team all-section forward, junior Tiffany Wright (10 ppg, 8 rpg), from last season's squad that finished second in the section.

Laurel: The Spartans haven't made the playoffs since 2003, but return a strong frontcourt in 5-10 junior Ellen Shaffer (11 ppg, 7.9 rpg) and 5-8 senior Jessica Conrad (9.6 ppg, 8 rpg).

Mohawk: The Warriors won the section title and reached the quarterfinals in both the WPIAL and PIAA tournaments. But they have heavy graduation losses, including Section 2 Player of the Year Shelby Brown (16.6 ppg).

Others

Riverside: Without all-section selections Alex Deep and Nicole Mansfield, the Panthers may find it tough to match the success of the past two seasons, when they won a combined 31 games.

New Brighton: After making the WPIAL quarterfinals in 2012, the Lions won just five games last season and have to find a way to replace Kaitlyn Hopkins (10 ppg, 10 rpg).

Shenango: Sophomore guard Angelina Sibeto (7.4 ppg) will try and help the Wildcats win their first section game since the 2009-10 season.

SECTION 3

Team to beat

Greensburg Central Catholic: The Centurions finished second to Jeannette in the section last season and advanced to the WPIAL and PIAA quarterfinals. They return a talented backcourt in all-section selection Carolyn Appleby (15 ppg) and Nikki Adisey (11 ppg).

Contenders

Jeannette: The Jayhawks advanced to the WPIAL semifinals behind WPIAL scoring leader Ciara Gregory (30.4 ppg). Without Gregory, Jeanette will turn to all-section senior forward Monique Redman (13.7 ppg).

Riverview: Sophomore guard Sadie Buchser (13.1 ppg) and junior forward Bree Patsey (7.5 ppg, 9 rpg) return from last season's 13-win team.

Others

Springdale: The Dynamos are looking for their fifth postseason appearance in a row behind senior guard Amanda Koprivnikar (10.9 ppg).

Shady Side Academy: Junior forward Gabby Harchelroad (9.3 ppg) will try to lead the Indians back to the playoffs after they missed the postseason for the first time in three years in 2013.

South Allegheny: The Gladiators lost all-section guard Jaylee Patterson (14.5 ppg), but return junior forward Abby Dranko (9.8 ppg) from last season's eight-win team.

East Allegheny: The Wildcats won just one game last season, but leading scorer Katlyn Keenan (13 ppg) is back.

SECTION 4

Team to beat

Seton-LaSalle: The Rebels were unable to defend their WPIAL and PIAA titles last season, losing to rival Bishop Canevin in the district final and state semifinal. Spencer Stefko is the team's new coach after leading Chartiers Valley to the PIAA Class AAAA semifinals last season and has two national top-100 recruits who have signed with the University of Pittsburgh -- seniors Yacine Diop and Naje Gibson.

Contenders

Bishop Canevin: The defending WPIAL and PIAA champions must replace three starters, including all-state selection and all-time leading scorer Erin Waskowiak (15 ppg). But the Crusaders return sharpshooting senior Johnie Olkosky and sophomore guard Gina Vallecorsa.

Fort Cherry: The Rangers won just eight games last season after moving up from Class A, but return double-digit scorers Rachel Bellhy (16.2 ppg, 12 rpg), a senior forward, and senior guard Jenna Lucas (15.6 ppg, 5 apg).

Others

Chartiers-Houston: Addy Knetzer (9 ppg, 7 rpg) is the leading returning scorer from last season's postseason team.

Steel Valley: New Ironmen coach Brittany Youngblood must replace the top three scorers from last season's 15-win team, including all-section forward CeCe Dixon (17 ppg, 10 rpg).

Brentwood; The Spartans went from one win two seasons ago to nine last season and return senior forward Laura McGowan (15 ppg, 12 rpg).

Wilkinsburg: Jonathan Whaley takes over a program that went winless last season.

SECTION 5

Team to beat

McGuffey: The Highlanders have the leading returning scorer in the WPIAL in junior Sammie Weiss (27.1 ppg). They also return starters Samantha Chadwick, Rachel Czulewicz, Abby Pattison and Cassie Weiss from a 20-win team.

Contenders

Charleroi: All-section guard and four-year starter Mia Woytovich (14.3 ppg) returns to a team whose only section losses came to McGuffey.

Washington: All-section forward Mya Gordon is back after leading the Little Prexies to a playoff win last season.

Others

Bentworth: After winning the section crown in 2011, the Bearcats missed the postseason last year and must replace all-section performer Taylor Pompei (15.9 ppg).

Beth-Center: The Bulldogs will look to all-section junior guard Anna Bartman (16.4 ppg) to right the ship after the team won just one section game last season.

Burgettstown: Megan Zitner is the new coach for the Blue Devils, who haven't made the playoffs since 1998.

South Side Beaver: Senior guard Samantha Gibson is the leading returning player for the Rams, a WPIAL qualifier last season.

SECTION 6

Team to beat

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart: The Chargers, who finished one game behind section champion Beaver last season, return all-section sophomore guard Bri Van Volkenburg (11.4 ppg) and all-section guard Tia Sciulli (9 ppg).

Contenders

Beaver: The Bobcats lost just one conference game last season and return the section's top scorer in junior point guard Lexi Posset (16.6 ppg).

Avonworth: The Antelopes return the top post player in the section in senior center Mackenzie Mayernik (13.1 ppg, 9.8 rpg) from last season's playoff squad.

Carlynton: The Cougars won a playoff game last season and welcome back all-section guards Hannah Murray (10.3 ppg) and Jordan Melko (7.7 ppg)

Others

Sto-Rox: The Vikings will lean on senior forward Aimee Miller (10 ppg, 8.5 rpg) as they try and return to the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

Northgate: Senior forward Shatasha Reeves averaged a double-double last season for the Flames, who have won just one section game over the past two seasons.

Freedom: Junior guard Casey Spieler (7 ppg) returns, but the Bulldogs lose double-digit scorers Maddi Lewis and Emilee Handyside.


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