WPIAL Class AA Girls Basketball Preview
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TEAM TO BEAT
Ford City: With 6-foot-3 Penn State recruit Marisa Wolfe (17.1 ppg, 8 rpg) controlling the low block, and guard Lynzee Parchik (8.6 ppg) in the backcourt, Ford City has a very good chance to make a run at the section crown and post another 20-win season.
• Burrell: Dropping down from Class AAA, the Bucs will immediately make an impact behind senior forward Taylor Myers (15 ppg, 9.7 rpg).
• Freeport: As a freshman last year, guard Anna Christy (6.6 ppg) opened some eyes.
• Apollo-Ridge: Senior forward Ellen Reilly (9 ppg, 6 rpg) will have to elevate her play if her squad wants to contend for a section crown.
• Deer Lakes: The Lancers shift into this section after posting a 9-15 mark last year.
• West Shamokin: After five wins last year, West Shamokin must find a way to replace guard Laura Renosky.
• Elderton: The Bobcats bounce up from Class A after just six wins last year.
• Leechburg: It could be tough for the Blue Devils, as they went winless in Class A last season.
TEAM TO BEAT
• Beaver: Duquesne recruit Carly Vendemia (16.7 ppg, 12.9 rpg) will be one of the premier senior post players in the WPIAL. Also, junior guard Kendra Pilarski (13.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg) will complement her and have Beaver as one of Class AA's best.
• Mohawk: A ton of talent returns, with 5-10 senior forward Chelsea Brown (7 ppg) and junior guards Alyssa Natale (10.2 ppg) and Kelly Fox (4 ppg) all back.
• Riverside: Seniors Leah Prisuta (11 ppg) and Amy Gatnarek (12 ppg) are two of the best athletes in the section.
• Neshannock: The Lancers need to deal with a lot of talent lost from last year's 16-8 season, but sophomore point guard Chelsea Kauffman (5.9 ppg) is back.
• New Brighton: After just three section wins last year, things are looking up with senior guards Chelsea Barnes (12 ppg) and Erika Carter (8 ppg).
• Laurel: Senior point guard Lacee Cutchell, at 5-1, is back to try to push the squad into playoff contention.
• Shenango: The Wildcats dropped all but one section game last year, and also graduated their top two scorers from that team.
TEAM TO BEAT
• Our Lady of the Sacred Heart: The Chargers reached the WPIAL Class AA championship game last season, and this year Devin McGrath (17.1 ppg), a senior, is back and can change the course of any game with her scoring ability.
• Bishop Canevin: The Crusaders would have been among the WPIAL's elite, but Destiny Ambrose, a senior, was lost for the year with a knee injury. Guard Heather Kaczorowski (9 ppg) really needs to step up now.
• Seton-LaSalle: As a freshman last season, 5-1 guard Alexa DelGreco was very impressive. She will be the biggest factor this year.
• South Fayette: Paige Uram (9 ppg, 4 apg), a 5-9 guard, will be one of the better senior leaders in the section.
• Brentwood: Seniors Megan Kissel and Melissa Pilarski will be leaned on heavily.
• Northgate: The Flames went 9-11 last year, earned a playoff spot, but scored just 18 points in their first-round loss.
• Carlynton: Junior guard Lauren Henry (6.7 ppg) will be pivotal to Carlynton's chances of making some noise.
TEAM TO BEAT
• Shady Side Academy: The Indians have the ultra-versatile, 5-7 senior Raediah Lyles back along with 5-4 senior guard Jenny Briston (12.6 ppg).
• Greensburg Central Catholic: The Centurions will be paced by the play of senior Megan DePrimio (15.3 ppg) and be led by "new" coach Don Favero, a coaching veteran who begins his first year with the program.
• Jeannette: Junior guard Kayla Cook (16.4 ppg) is tremendously talented. But, who is going to step up around her?
• East Allegheny: The Wildcats just missed the playoffs with a 5-7 section record last season. They need to defend better if they want to take the next step.
• Wilkinsburg: Darche Jackson transferred to Penn Hills. What happens now?
• Riverview: Erin Wallace transferred to Penn Hills. What happens now?
• Springdale: The Dynamos dropped their final seven games last year; they need to buck that trend.
• South Allegheny: The Gladiators won just two games last year and lost their best player, Liz Piekut (13.9 ppg), to graduation.
TEAM TO BEAT
• Washington: Duquesne recruit Jocelyn Floyd (16.4 ppg) goes into this season as the Little Prexies' go-to player. At 5-8, she is very versatile and will have to provide most of the scoring for Washington.
• Beth-Center: Junior guard Megan Sowers (16 ppg), at 5-9, showed how tough of a matchup she was last year. She needs to continue to shine if her squad is to make a run at the section crown.
• Brownsville: The Falcons could surprise a whole lot of teams this year. Junior point guard Cassie Onesko (14.3 ppg) and sophomore Angie Pelehac (14.1 ppg) are top notch.
• Burgettstown: The hopes of this squad rest largely on junior guard Tessa Bonacci (6.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg).
• Bentworth: Amanda Kennedy averaged a double-double last year as a junior with 10 points and 10.4 rebounds. She will be huge again.
• Charleroi: Aly Lee (12 ppg) returns as the top offensive option.
• Frazier: An uphill climb stands in front of Frazier -- they were winless in Class A last season.
TEAM TO BEAT
• Sto-Rox: The Vikings have a bunch of fire-power, with seniors Kerry Connolly (11 ppg), Tynesha Lee (9.2 ppg) and Daryl Ford (9.1 ppg) all back from a team that won 16 games last season.
• Avonworth: The Lady Lopes hop up from Class A, but they shouldn't have a hard time getting their feet underneath of them because of junior center Tara Gallupe (15.1 ppg, 12.5 rpg).
• South Side Beaver: Megan McCarthy, a 5-4 senior guard, averaged 10 points per game last year and will run the show again.
• Beaver Falls: This team could be the sleeper in the section, if senior point guard Dyara Williams (9.5 ppg) takes care of the basketball.
• Aliquippa: The Quips went winless in the section last season, but they were very young. Look for them to improve mightily.
• Freedom: If the Bulldogs are going to be a factor, 5-4 senior guard Jenn Cantella (10 ppg, 5.2 apg) needs to play well.
• Quaker Valley: The Quakers must deal with the losses of Christa Rogers and Katey Clancey to graduation -- they averaged a combined 29 points per game.
First Published November 28, 2008 12:00 am