After going winless, Ligonier Valley girls basketball showing improvement as season approaches

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Tuesday, November 30, 2021 | 8:21 PM


After a winless 2020-21 season, the only direction the Ligonier Valley girls basketball team can go is up.

Second-year coach Emily Daugherty and her team were hindered by covid-19 and the decision to play up in class.

Daugherty was hired late after Tim Gustin was named the boys coach in November, and because of the virus, all athletic teams at the school were shut down until mid-January.

“I got little time with the players,” Daugherty said. “We knew going in it would be a challenge playing in Class 4A. But not once did they give up. A referee told me during a game last year that we did not stop playing hard, and that made me smile.”

The Rams will be competing in Class 4A for one more year with Southmoreland, West Mifflin, Belle Vernon, Elizabeth Forward, Mt. Pleasant and Yough. The district decided to play up to cut down on travel.

“Every player knew what we faced and knew they’d be the underdogs,” Daugherty said. “They gave it their all. I give them all the credit.”

The good thing this season is the team returns its top six players: seniors Abby Painter and Madison Griffin, juniors Haley Boyd and Mara Myers and sophomores Maddy Marinchak and Amanda Woods. Sophomore Lyla Barr, a guard/forward, returns after sitting out her freshman season.

Boyd was the leading scorer, averaging nearly 10 points.

“We see improvement every single day at practice,” Daugherty said.

“The girls need to play with a positive attitude and put our best foot forward all of the time. We competed in the Windber summer league and won some games.”

Daugherty said she expects more players will contribute and help Boyd. Those players are Marinchak, Painter and Griffin.

“It was a learning experience for me,” Daugherty said. “As a player, I’ve been through this. It was a little harder. I wanted to fix things, but I couldn’t. I learned that I needed to be patient.”

Daugherty said she wants this current team to be the building block of getting basketball back on track in the valley.

“The middle school was good, and there are more girls playing in the elementary school,” Daugherty said. “It starts from the bottom, and kids want to play basketball.”

Ligonier Valley already held one scrimmage Nov. 26 against Conemaugh Township. The Rams will face Geibel on Monday before opening the season Dec. 10 at Greensburg Salem.

“We did well in our scrimmage,” Daugherty said. “I’m already seeing a huge difference in how we playing. We’re getting better.”

At a glance

Coach: Emily Daugherty

Last year’s record: 0-15 (0-12 Section 3-4A)

Returning starters: Amanda Woods (so., G), Maddy Marinchak (so., G), Mara Myers (jr., G), Haley Boyd (jr., PG), Abby Painter (sr. F), Madison Griffin (sr., F).

Top newcomers: Lyla Barr (so., G/F).

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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