Despite small roster, Riverview girls in position to stay in section hunt

Friday, November 25, 2022 | 4:24 PM

The Riverview girls basketball team would like to extend its legacy of making the WPIAL playoffs 12 of the past 13 seasons.

But first, the Raiders will have to get their whole team on the floor.

A number of players have missed preseason practice time for various reason, but second-year coach Jill Catanzaro remains hopeful.

“That was certainly something to build on the first year,” Catanzaro said. “I can see after the first year they’ve retained some of what we built last year with the system that I see and the vision that I have. I just have to keep my patience.”

The Raiders finished 5-14, 2-6 in the five-team section, losing to Monessen in the first round of the Class A playoffs.

Returning starters include senior Brionna Long, junior guard Lola Abraham and sophomores Katerina Tsambis and Lily Bauer.

“We feel we’re going to have a good team this year,” Long said. “We went far in going to the playoffs last year, and I think we can go farther. We are all super close and work well together and communicate well on the court.”

Abraham is one of the area’s top soccer players who has committed to Pitt.

“It’s definitely different transitioning from soccer to basketball, but a lot of these girls played soccer as well,” Abraham said. “We already built a bond during soccer and have a chemistry within the team. It’s easy and comfortable.”

Another player, sophomore Lily Hood, had a broken ankle in soccer but is hopeful of returning for the second half of the season.

That gives Riverview 11 other rostered players, preventing the program from having a junior varsity team.

Promising freshman guard Isabella Chaparro appears ready to contribute, and fellow ninth-graders Sienna Daley and Lana Lynch also could see playing time, along with sophomore Gina Volpe.

“Isabella’s played AAU ball, and her shot has improved tremendously,” Catanzaro said. “It’s just getting up to the pace of the varsity level. I’m looking for great things out of all of them. With a limited roster, they have to be ready when their number is called.”

The Raiders once again have a five-team section arrangement in the new, two-year WPIAL cycle.

“We’re familiar with Leechburg and Jeannette, but St. Joe’s got a target on their back, as some coaches would say, and Hillel Academy is new,” Catanzaro said.

Riverview opens the season against The Ellis School in the Aquinas Academy Tip-off Tournament.

Said Catanzaro: “I like playing Aquinas. They’re a nice, solid team. I’ll be anxious to see what they have after losing all those seniors.”

Riverview’s bus driver will get a break as the Raiders will have eight straight home games from Dec. 30 to Jan. 23. That, however, follows five straight road games, including the Apollo Trust Holiday Tournament.

Catanzaro will be without her assistant Buck Larry, who has moved to Elizabeth-Forward with his son. Sara Kirsch, who is also Riverview’s volleyball coach, will be his replacement.

At a glance

Coach: Jill Catanzaro

Last year’s record: 5-14 (2-6 in Section 3-A)

Returning starters: Brionna Long (Sr., forward), Lola Abraham (Jr., guard), Katerina Tsambis (So., guard), Lily Bauer (So., guard/forward)

Key newcomers: Isabella Chaparro (Fr., guard), Sienna Daley (Fr., guard), Lana Lynch (Fr., center)


More High School Basketball

High school roundup for Feb. 29, 2024: Mt. Lebanon drops Central Catholic for 3rd place in 6A
Star-studded Lincoln Park beats Hampton to repeat as WPIAL champs
Erica Gribble sparks Greensburg Central Catholic past Serra Catholic for 6th WPIAL title
Imani Christian comes alive, speeds past Neighborhood Academy for WPIAL repeat
2024 WPIAL Class 3A girls basketball championship breakdown: Avonworth vs. Shady Side Academy