4 starters return as Yough girls basketball continues to build

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Monday, December 7, 2020 | 3:09 PM


It’s all about building a foundation for the Yough girls basketball program.

But adding the building blocks became difficult last season as the Cougars went 0-14 in section play and 3-19 overall.

“It’s a slow process,” fourth-year coach Mike Gerdich said. “From where we started in my first year coming into my fourth year, we’ve asked our young ladies to take a step, build the next part of the foundation. Unfortunately last year, we didn’t do as well as we wanted to do. We didn’t take a big enough step.”

Gerdich felt the team was plagued by inconsistent play last season, but he sees progress heading into the new season. Yough has to get ready quickly because the first Section 3-4A game will be Dec. 17 at home against Ligonier Valley.

“What we need to do is put it together for four quarters,” Gerdich said. “We’ll come out and do well the first half, then come out in the second half and it’s like we forget to show up and play. Now, we feel like we have a group that can compete right away in the early section play.”

Four starters return for Yough, including senior Kaylynn Odelli at point guard and junior Kylie Roebuck, along with junior Kayla Gerdich and 6-foot sophomore Laney Gerdich.

As a ninth grader, she averaged 8.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocked shots.

Odelli didn’t get to compete in scholastic softball last spring because of the pandemic, so she is looking forward to the start of basketball.

“It’s really hard at practice,” Odelli said. “You can never tell who’s in quarantine and who’s not. Last two weeks, we’ve only had six players come to all the practices. It’s hard to envision ghost offenses and ghost defenses.”

Competing for the other starting nod is junior Makayla Dixon, sophomore Mikayla Chewing and another sophomore, Madison Hodge, who came out for basketball for the first time last year, and freshman Autumn Matthews.

Coach Gerdich indicates he will try several different combinations on the floor in the early going.

Stalwarts McKeesport and Ringgold are gone from section play. Ligonier Valley will be returning to the WPIAL, where girls basketball did not exist when the school left the league in 1969.

Other section foes will be Belle Vernon, Elizabeth Forward, Mt. Pleasant, West Mifflin and defending section champion Southmoreland.

“Just about everybody any night, any opponent is going to be tough for us, but we look forward to the challenge,” coach Gerdich said. “One thing about our young ladies is that they never, ever give up, even if they’re not doing well on the scoreboard. That’s been a nice blessing for me.”

Yough starts the season Friday at Southmoreland’s tip-off tournament against West Greene, the WPIAL Class A runner-up last season. The Cougars will play Albert Gallatin on Saturday.

Odelli is excited about the freshmen coming into the program.

“I think we have a good freshman class coming up that’ll help out in competition, especially in practice,” she said. “There’ll be some spots up for grabs.”

Odelli recently committed to play college softball at John Carroll, near Cleveland.

Yough girls basketball at a glance

Coach: Mike Gerdich

Last year’s record: 3-19 (0-14 in Section 3-4A)

Returning starters: Kaylynn Odelli (Sr., G), Kylie Roebuck (Sr., G/F), Kayla Gerdich (Jr., G), Laney Gerdich (So., F)

Top newcomers: Makayla Dixon (Jr., G), Mikayla Chewing (So., G), Madison Hodge (So., G), Autumn Matthews (Fr., G/F)

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