Brentwood’s Mallory Daly, other freshmen make instant impact

Sunday, January 31, 2021 | 9:01 AM

Mallory Daly has had a major effect on the Brentwood girls basketball team.

You could say she has helped the team improve on a daily basis — at practice and in the Spartans’ games

And she’s only a freshman.

The 5-foot-7 Daly, a backcourt sensation as a sharpshooting point guard, sparked Brentwood to an unblemished 6-0 record and first place in Section 3-3A through the early portion of the 2020-21 season.

“I’m very excited with how my team has started off. We’ve started off very strong and I hope we keep it up,” she said. ”We definitely have lots of speed and ball movement. I really think we move the ball nice and fast.”

Gusto and high energy are a few of the attributes Daly has infused into the Brentwood backcourt.

“Mallory brings speed, quickness and intensity to our team,” said Brentwood coach Rachel Thomas, who sat out a few games in January because she had to quarantine. “As a freshman, she understands her role and has incredible court vision. She really is accepting the challenge of being a varsity starter. She’s not afraid to ask questions to make sure she fully understands her roles and responsibilities.

“She’s off to a great start, and it just energizes her more. She pushes herself and her teammates to be better every day and is emerging as a team leader.”

Daly is the sister of junior guard/forward Maura Daly, who was named the Spartans’ most outstanding player in 2019-20; junior Dalton Daly, a junior guard on the boys basketball team; and O’Malley Daly, another freshman hoopster at Brentwood.

Maura and Dalton, as well as Mallory and O’Malley, are twins. They also are siblings of Delaney Daly, who competed in basketball at Seton LaSalle from 2013-2016 and Carlow from 2016-2020.

Mallory Daly leads the team in scoring and is a crafty defensive player. She totaled 39 points and her sister 36 in two section wins against South Allegheny.

She already has achieved one of her goals for 2020-21, competing at the varsity level as Maura’s teammate.

“I love it,” Mallory Daly said. “We work very well together. We push each other to get better.

“That was a goal I had set for myself going into high school. I worked extra hard to achieve that accomplishment (starting on the varsity team).”

The freshman backcourt whiz also netted 24 points Jan. 19 in a 60-52 section victory over Keystone Oaks. Taylor Davis, a senior guard, added 11 for the Spartans.

“We want to continue to work as a team, win section and make it to the (WPIAL finals at) Petersen Events Center,” Mallory Daly said.

Two other top freshman players at Brentwood are Mia March, a 5-10 forward, and Bobbie Wardzinski, a 5-4 guard.

“Mia has improved daily,” Thomas said. “She is physical and strong under the boards. She is working hard with the coaching staff to gain more confidence with positioning and rebounding.

“She also does not hesitate to ask questions. She is eager to learn and improve. She gives us quality minutes every time she is in a game.”

Wardzinski is the sister of senior running back Aiden Wardzinski, a four-year starter for the Spartans who accounted for more than 3,000 career offensive yards.

Bobbie Wardzinski has been working tirelessly on her backcourt game and has secured a key reserve role for the Spartans this season.

“Once Bobbie settles into the expectations of high school sports, she will be a great addition to our guards,” Thomas said. “She is improving. She handles the ball very well and has great speed.”

Freshmen join TJ girls lineup

The starting lineup for the Thomas Jefferson girls basketball team consists of two seniors, one junior and, at times, two freshmen — Gabrielle Breisinger, a 5-10 forward, and Laekyn Flinn, a 5-9 guard.

Breisinger has made her presence felt both in the lane and in the rebounding department.

“Gabby gives us a strong presence in the paint,” TJ coach Lisa Fairman said. “She has a nice touch around the basket and gives us scoring on the inside. She screens well, opening up opportunities for our guards as well as herself.

“I believe Gabby will get stronger with the physicality and speed of the game. The more she plays, the more she will gain confidence to play fearless and not back down from anyone. She is learning how to better position herself on rebounds and work on her defense. The more experience she gets, she will be a kid that is capable of double-doubles every night.”

Thanks to her height and deft shooting touch, Flinn has been able to make contributions both in the backcourt and on the boards. Her coach believes she will only get better as she grows into her role.

“Laekyn brings us a tall, physical guard that can shoot, rebound and handle the ball on the perimeter,” Fairman said. “She has a knack for rebounding and put-backs on the offensive end, and she is able to pull defensive boards to start our transition. I love that she is able to drive to the rim and finish.

“Laekyn is working on consistency with her outside shot and ball handling. Once she develops that, she will be even tougher to guard. The more experience she gets, the better she will be able to learn our defense. I expect her to be a double-double player as she continues to grow.”

Another leading freshman prospect for the Jaguars is guard Raygen Hintemeyer, who is recovering from a broken collarbone.

Lucarelli, Mezeivtch are Baldwin’s future

Freshman guard Katie Lucarelli is a member of both the varsity and junior varsity teams at Baldwin and is the younger sister of senior guard and Anna Lucarelli, a West Liberty recruit.

“Katie reminds me of her sister Anna,” Baldwin coach Jamal Woodson said. “They say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, and that statement is so true in this situation.

“Katie brings a lot to the table. She can handle the ball and is a true point guard. She is never afraid to go up against our upperclassmen in practice. She has a nice skillset and is always willing to take constructive criticism. If I yell and tell her to do something, she takes it in and doesn’t make that same mistake again. She is a leader just like her sister and always wants to be on the court.”

The Highlanders’ first-year floor boss also has high hopes for Mallory Mezeivtch, another freshman backcourt specialist.

“Mal is such a delight to watch on the court,” Woodson said, “and gives everything she has while she’s on the court at all times. I definitely see (Lucarelli and Mezeivtch) as Baldwin’s future.”

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