WPIAL Class AAA Girls Basketball Preview
Share with others:
TEAM TO BEAT
• Hampton: One-half of last season's great frontcourt tandem returns, as senior forward Laurel Hansen (8.6 ppg, 12.8 rpg) helps the Talbots defend their WPIAL title. Getting solid play from the backcourt will be the key.
• Mars: Led by senior guard/forward Lily Grenci (17.9 ppg), a 13th consecutive playoff appearance should be in the cards for the Planets.
• Knoch: The Knights struggled a season ago, but a solid senior class headed by forward Sara Montgomery (8 ppg) has them on the rebound.
• Highlands: After reaching the playoffs for the first time in at least two decades, senior forward Courtney Kordes looks to earn the Golden Rams a return trip this year.
• Franklin Regional: The Panthers make the move from Section 3, where they advanced to the playoffs each of the past two seasons.
• Kittanning: The Wildcats must find replacements for seven players who graduated.
• Valley: The Vikings are coming off a 2-20 campaign, and have to make up for the loss of top scorer Kaila Benson
TEAM TO BEAT
• Hopewell: A perfect 40-0 in section-play over the past three seasons, the Vikings will lean on the production of a pair of returning all-section juniors -- Paige Alviani (13.7 ppg) and Elise Farris (13.2 ppg).
• New Castle: One of the top teams in Class AAAA the past few seasons, the Red Hurricanes look to maintain their success as they drop down a class.
• Center: A veteran Trojans team has four starters back, including senior guards Ola Jaber and Alyssa Scott.
• Blackhawk: The Cougars are always tough, but were hit hard by graduation, particularly at the guard positions.
• Ambridge: The WPIAL's second-leading scorer, Kiki Brown, is gone, but the Bridgers do return sophomore forward Precious McCracken (9 ppg.).
• Ellwood City: The Wolverines hope to end a drought -- they have not won a section game since 2002.
TEAM TO BEAT
• Mount Pleasant: Driving for a second consecutive section title, the Vikings have a lot of returning talent. Junior guard Shelby Way (10.3 ppg) is a spark on the perimeter, while junior forward Carly Zelenak (9 ppg, 7.9 rpg) works the interior.
• Southmoreland: Seniors guards Nikki King (8 ppg) and Nicole Pizzola (7.6 ppg) are back for the Scotties, who won eight of their final 10 games last season.
• Greensburg Salem: With the return of senior forward Andrea Thompson (11.4 ppg) and junior forward Emily Craig (11.5 ppg), the Golden Lions should be back to their winning ways.
• Indiana: The Little Indians make the move from Section 1.
• Uniontown: Dropping to Class AAA, the Red Raiders will ride the play of junior guard Mallory Sanner.
• Laurel Highlands: Top scorer Meg Mahoney (16.9 ppg), a senior guard, returns to lead the Mustangs.
• Derry: Junior guard Tiffanni Downey (18.1 ppg) is the leading returning scorer in Class AAA.
TEAM TO BEAT
• West Mifflin: A WPIAL finalist last season, the Titans stand out in what appears to be the most loaded section in Class AAA. Junior forward Jessica Pitts is poised for a breakout season, and senior point guard Taylor Fulton provides her with the perfect complement.
• Chartiers Valley: Everybody is back from last season's squad that lost to West Mifflin in the WPIAL semifinals, including junior guard Paige Aleski (11.5 ppg) and junior forward Erica Restich (12.6 ppg).
• South Park: Can last season's WPIAL Class AA champs contend for the Class AAA crown? A talented backcourt is led by senior Nicole Doria (15.8 ppg).
• West Allegheny: The Indians have a nice inside-outside game with senior center Michelle Walker and junior guard Brianna Bayly. Walker is a Pitt volleyball recruit.
• Montour: The Spartans are still very young, but sophomore forward Alena Esposito (15.1 ppg) is one to keep an eye on.
• Steel Valley: Senior guard Brittany Dunmire (13.7 ppg) hopes to get the Ironmen to the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
• Keystone Oaks: Graduation hit the Golden Eagles hard, so returning to the postseason will be tough.
TEAM TO BEAT
• Elizabeth Forward: It's been five years since their last section title, but the Warriors could end up on top this season. Senior guard Taylor Ohm and senior forward Paige Pearce lead the way.
• Belle Vernon: Junior guard Jocelyn Connolly (13 ppg) is one of three returning starters for the Leopards, who made the playoffs for the first time in nine years last season.
• Thomas Jefferson: Sophomore point guard Jordyn D'Alessandro (6.5 ppg) showed a lot of promise last season, as did junior guard Skylar Williams (6.6 ppg).
• McGuffey: The Highlanders look to ride the momentum of their first playoff berth since 1991.
• Waynesburg: Senior forward Abby Toothman hopes to help the Raiders notch their first section win in three seasons.
• Yough: Also looking for its first section win in three seasons, the Cougars will ride senior forward Allison Saccani.
First Published November 28, 2008 12:00 am