Derry girls basketball relying on team effort to replace star scorer

Tuesday, November 15, 2022 | 4:42 PM

If the Derry girls basketball team is to have a successful season, the word “team” needs to be emphasized.

The Trojans relied on Tiana Moracco to lead the offense the past few seasons, but Moracco took her 23 points per game average to Pitt-Greensburg.

“We need everyone to improve their offensive production,” Derry coach Gene Brisbane said. “We can’t just rely on one person. We’ll also need to play defense.”

Derry was 7-13 overall last season and 4-8 in one of the toughest sections (1-4A) in the WPIAL. The section consists of perennial power North Catholic, Knoch, Highlands, Freeport, Greensburg Salem and Valley.

“The starters all need to raise their level of play,” Brisbane said. “We’re looking for a balanced scoring approach.”

The Trojans return five players who started or were part-time starters. They are senior forwards Mara Lewis and Sara Bungard, junior guards Samantha Gruska and Rachelle Marinchek and sophomore guard Jane Huss. Senior Lauren Hood was also a returning starter, but an injury will force her to miss the season.

Brisbane said he hopes five newcomers — junior Allie Chamberlain and Ally Loucks, sophomore Rain Loucks and freshmen Rissa Loucks and Bailey Legge — will show steady improvement throughout the season.

Brisbane, who has coached boys and girls basketball for 43 years, is starting his fourth season at Derry.

While numbers continue to be a problem, he’s excited about the future of the program with the way the middle school team has been playing. Brisbane said there are 17 players on the middle school roster and the team is having a lot of success.

“There are some talented players on the team,” Brisbane said.

Defense will be a key to the varsity team’s success.

Brisbane will use multiple defenses to slow down the Trojans’ opponents.

“We have to take away our opponents’ strengths with different defenses,” Brisbane said. “I’m not opposed to mixing up defenses during the game to force opponents to adjust.”

Derry is the smallest Class 4A team, missing out on playing in Class 3A by one student. Derry has 194 female students in grades nine through 11. The cutoff was 193.

“This is a very tough and talented section,” Brisbane said. “We’ll have our hands full. I won’t change how we approach things because our numbers are low.”

At a glance

Coach: Gene Brisbane

Last year’s record: 7-13, 4-8 (Section 1-4A)

Returning starters: Rachelle Marinchek (Jr., G), Mara Lewis (Sr., F), Samantha Gruska (Jr., G), Jane Huss (So., G) and Sara Bungard (Sr., F).

Top newcomers: Allie Chamberlain (Jr., F), Ally Loucks (Jr., F), Rain Loucks (So., F), Rissa Loucks (Fr., F) and Bailey Legge (Fr., F).

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at


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