Girls' Basketball: WPIAL Class AA preview
Share with others:
Apollo-Ridge: The Vikings have the section's top player in Hannah Shaffer, and might win their first section title in 14 years, too. A senior point guard, Shaffer averaged 16.7 points and 6 steals per game last season.
Ford City: With center Marisa Wolfe now at Penn State, the Sabers' lineup will be much smaller than in recent years. The lone returning starter is junior guard Krystal Dudas (6.4 ppg).
Burrell: The Bucs have a talented point guard in senior Morgan Sharick (7 ppg, 6 apg).
Freeport: A young Yellowjackets squad does have some experience with three-year starters junior guard Anna Christy and junior forward Nicolette Blake.
Deer Lakes: Senior guard Sara Katich, who regularly scored in double figures last season, leads a deep rotation.
West Shamokin: The Wolves were hit hard by graduation.
Leechburg: The Blue Devils won just twice the past two seasons.
Beaver: Despite losing Carly Vendemia, the school's all-time leading scorer, the Bobcats are the favorite. Seniors Kendra Pilarski (15.8 ppg) and Paige Onuska (10.6 ppg) give new coach Greg Huston a terrific tandem of guards.
Neshannock: After coaching New Castle to the WPIAL Class AAA title a season ago, Luann Grybowski takes over at Neshannock. The transition should be eased by the return of junior forward Ericka Warvell (12.4 ppg, 8 rpg).
Mohawk: Expectations are high as the Warriors bring back four starters, including senior guard Alyssa Natale (13 ppg).
Riverside: The Panthers have earned at least a share of the section championship the past three seasons but graduated the bulk of their scoring punch.
New Brighton: A solid corps of seniors includes forward Cynderra Mobley and guard/forward Lauren Pier.
Laurel: Top scorers junior guard Becca Kerr and senior guard Nicolette McCormick give the Spartans hope.
Shenango: Sophomore guard Angelene Rapone showed a lot of promise last season.
Seton-LaSalle: All five starters are back from last season's WPIAL finalist. Senior center Katie Gattuso (15 ppg, 12 rpg) is a force in the lane. Juniors Jordan Dwyer and Emily Marecic join her in the frontcourt, while junior Alexa DelGreco and senior Molly Tuite are a fine guard duo.
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart: The Chargers lost all-time leading scorer Devin McGrath but should continue to be a force with four starters returning.
Bishop Canevin: Junior guard Maddy McGuire and senior guard Erica Bridge must make up for the graduation of star Destiny Ambrose.
South Fayette: Lizzie King, a junior forward, will help the Lions build on one of their best seasons in school history.
Brentwood: Senior guard/forward Libby Gerstel could be the top scoring option for new coach Jaime Jones.
Carlynton: The Cougars top returning player is senior guard Angela Baker.
Northgate: Senior center Erica Benny has the potential to be a difference-maker.
Jeannette: The Jayhawks will ride the talents of senior guard/forward Kayla Cook (21.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and junior guard Shanae Daye.
Greensburg Central Catholic: Junior guard Tess Zufall will lead the Centurions squad, who have no worse than second in section the past nine seasons.
Shady Side Academy: The Indians must replace many key players. Sophomore forward Delaney Fischer leads the way.
East Allegheny: Senior forward Leah Hurst (21 ppg) will miss time while recovering from a torn ACL.
Riverview: New coach Keith Stitt inherits a team that returns sophomore guard Mary Andrejko.
Springdale: The Dynamos fell one spot short of making the playoffs the past two years.
Wilkinsburg: Junior forward Lakie Herbert had some big games last season.
South Allegheny: Jake Joyce takes over a team that went winless a season ago.
Washington: A 10th consecutive section crown could be in store for the Little Prexies with senior guard Chelsea Evans (9 ppg) and senior guard/forward D'Andrea Smith returning.
Brownsville: Senior guard Cassie Onesko (14.6 ppg) and junior point guard Angela Pelehac are the top returnees for a Falcons squad that lost just one senior.
Beth-Center: The Bulldogs also are an experienced bunch. Senior guard Megan Sowers already has surpassed 1,000 points for her career.
Charleroi: Morgan Iacovino, a junior forward, will try to help the Cougars reach the postseason for a fifth consecutive year.
Bentworth: Seniors Samantha Ritzer and Ashley Rick give the Bearcats an excellent backcourt duo.
Burgettstown: Senior guard Tessa Bonacci (11.3 ppg) and the Blue Devils seek their first playoff berth since 1998.
Frazier: The Commodores have dropped their past 22 section games.
Aliquippa: The Quips could be one of the season's biggest surprises with senior guard Sharneka Carter (13.5 ppg).
Avonworth: Bob Schulz returns for his second stint as coach and has a talent squad led by senior center Tara Gallupe (17.4 ppg, 10.5 rpg).
Sto-Rox: The defending WPIAL champion lost its top three scorers, but return senior center Dee Dee King.
Beaver Falls: Junior guard Brittany Mineard is the only returning starter.
Quaker Valley: Alexa Burzese, a senior guard, could spark a playoff push.
Freedom: Senior guard Alyssa Schell is one of the Bulldogs' top returnees.
South Side Beaver: New coach Alyssa Hickman will try to improve on a four-win season.
Sharneka Carter, Aliquippa, 5-7, Sr., Guard
Kayla Cook, Jeannette, 5-9, Sr., Guard/Forward
Nakira Emerson, Aliquippa, 5-10, So., Guard/Forward
Tara Gallupe, Avonworth, 6-0, Sr., Center
Katie Gattuso, Seton-LaSalle, 6-1, Sr., Forward
Leah Hurst, East Allegheny, 5-10, Sr., Guard/Forward
Dee Dee King, Sto-Rox, 6-2, Sr., Center
Kendra Pilarski, Beaver, 5-9, Sr., Guard/Forward
Hannah Shaffer, Apollo-Ridge, 5-8, Sr., Guard
Megan Sowers, Beth-Center, 5-9, Sr., Guard
First Published December 4, 2009 12:00 am