Bolstered by soccer team’s success, Riverview girls basketball team has high expectations

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Friday, November 24, 2023 | 12:27 PM


One day after playing in a state championship, several members of the Riverview girls soccer team showed up to basketball practice.

Raiders coach Jill Catanzaro implored them to take the day off, but that’s not in their DNA.

“Even a day probably wasn’t enough, because that was a long (soccer) season for them, but it was well worth it,” Catanzaro said.

Eight players from the soccer team — Lola Abraham, Katerina Tsambis, Isabel Chaparro, Chiara Brun, Juliette Brun, Lily Hood, Catie Hoolahan and Mary Quinlan — also are on the basketball team.

The extended soccer season led to a delayed start to hoops, but they are looking to carry over the vibes illuminating from a highly successful fall season that resulted in a PIAA runner-up finish.

“You set different goals in a different sport, but that character bump they have can help them reach those goals,” Catanzaro said. “They have all the attributes of being competitive and hard working. You can tell with the jokes they have and the closeness within them that the culture has already developed.”

Riverview finished second in Section 3-A last year and returns five players with starting experience in Abraham, Tsambis, Lily Bauer, Chaparro and Gina Volpe.

Chaparro and Volpe shared starting time last season.

The Raiders had a six-win improvement last year and graduated only one starter in Brionna Long.

There’s 14 girls out for the team. Catanzaro will have Sara Kirsch, Riverview’s volleyball coach, as her assistant for the second consecutive season.

This is Catanzaro’s third year coaching the Raiders, and she senses the team is at a place where they are comfortable in her system.

“They are a little bit more polished and more sure of what they are supposed to do,” Catanzaro said. “They are picking up our sticky language. It’s getting clearer. When more clarity comes for both me as a coach and them as players it becomes smoother like well-oiled machinery.”

Riverview is in Section 3-A again with Leechburg, St. Joseph, Jeannette and Hillel Academy.

The Raiders had a chance to split the title with St. Joseph last year but lost a tight, 38-31 contest in the section finale.

“When we played St. Joseph at home, things were clicking and it was neck and neck, but we ended up falling short,” Catanzaro said. “There were a couple mistakes that caused it. We left them open for a couple uncontested 3-pointers, and you can’t do that. But the girls are already talking. It’s on their radar. I remember distinctly after that game Katerina (Tsambis) said ‘Now we know how we can play, and we can beat these teams.’ Getting there comes with that belief.”

Riverview girls at a glance

Coach: Jill Catanzaro

Last year’s record: 11-11 (6-2 Section 3-A)

Returning starters: Lola Abraham (Sr., G), Katerina Tsambis (Jr., G), Lily Bauer (Jr., G/F), Isabel Chaparro (So., G), Gina Volpe (Jr., G)

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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