A sister act has been getting it done this season for the Quigley Catholic girls basketball team.
With a pair of sister duos making up four of the five starters, the Spartans have ridden the kind of chemistry a coach cannot teach to a strong start in Class A Section 1.
Quigley is 8-4 overall and 6-0 in section play headed into a non-section contest tonight at Franklin Regional High School, a Class AAAA program.
The Spartans, ranked No. 5 in Class A by the Post-Gazette, feature a starting five that includes sisters, Kaitlyn and Gabrielle Smith and twin sisters Brittany and Kristin Jackson.
Kaitlyn Smith is a 5-foot-9 junior point guard and Gabrielle is a 6-0 sophomore guard. Brittany Jackson is a 5-9 senior guard and her sister, Kristin, is a 5-9 guard/forward.
"Both groups of sisters definitely know each other's tendencies and know what they want to do," Quigley Catholic coach Bill DelTondo said. "They know how each other plays and where they like the ball."
Kristin Jackson, Kaitlyn Smith and Gabrielle Smith are all returning starters. Gabrielle Smith is expected to miss about four weeks after she dislocated her right elbow on Dec. 27 in a game against Central Valley. DelTondo expects her to return late this month or in early February, just before the end of the regular season.
"We are kind of missing her," DelTondo said. "She is only a sophomore but she is 6 feet tall, has real long arms and she has done a lot for us."
At a Class A program such as Quigley and with the injury to Gabrielle Smith, the versatility of a player such as Kristin Jackson cannot be overstated. She can play guard or forward depending on the matchup and who is coming off the bench for the Spartans.
"It is very nice to have a player like her," DelTondo said. "She is one of those kids who will do whatever you ask of her."
Kristin Jackson has been a team captain the past two seasons. Her twin sister, Brittany, is a perimeter shooting threat and mostly plays outside as opposed to Kristin, who is more physical. The Jackson twins are Chippewa Township residents.
The Smith sisters, Beaver Falls residents, are more similar in their playing styles.
"Both are guard-oriented and both dribble the ball well," DelTondo said.
Liz Duer, a 5-10 junior forward, is the fifth starter for Quigley. She is the team's primary post player.
Kristin Jackson leads the team in scoring, averaging about 13 points per game. In seven games played before she was injured, Gabrielle Smith was averaging 11.8 points per game. Duer averages about 10 points per game and Kaitlyn Smith averages between 9 and 10 points per game.
Quigley Catholic played a competitive non-section schedule competing in the Ambridge tip-off tournament against Class AAA Quaker Valley and Class AAAA Pine-Richland along with playing Class AA Beaver Area, Class AAA Central Valley and Class AAA Ambridge. Of those games, the Spartans defeated Quaker Valley and Central Valley.
"We have been playing a tougher schedule," DelTondo said. "These games are getting us ready for the playoffs hopefully."
Quigley Catholic finished 12-0 in section play last season and reached the WPIAL semifinals before falling to eventual WPIAL champion Vincentian Academy.
DelTondo goes about three to four players deep off the bench with 5-9 junior Olivia Fyda and 5-9 Annie Shyach the first two guards off the bench and 5-9 senior Rachel Dunmire as the first forward off the bench.
"We may be able to go deeper," DelTondo said. "Depending on what we need, if we need a shooter or a defender.