Experienced Southmoreland girls basketball team turns to defense

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Saturday, November 30, 2019 | 7:32 PM


It’s not that Brian Pritts undervalues offense.

The girls basketball coach at Southmoreland appreciates high-percentage shots and sound ball movement. He wants his players to look to score.

But Pritts’ clear focus heading into a new season is defense.

He gets a gleam in his eye when he mentions that side of the game.

“We’ll build off our defense,” Pritts said. “Defense wins championships.”

Southmoreland led WPIAL Class 4A in defensive scoring average last season, clogging the lane to the tune of 36.8 points.

The Scotties, who lost just one senior — a good one in 6-foot-2 Maggie Moore, now at Navy — could be on their way to one of their better seasons if a small group of experienced seniors can mesh with a talented crop of underclassmen.

Southmoreland has the look of a playoff team, maybe one that can bring home the program’s first section title since 2007 and be the first to make it past the quarterfinals.

Size and depth appear to be strengths.

“We have a nice mix,” said Pritts, in his eighth season with the Scotties. “Our four seniors give us a lot of leadership. They have gotten better and better. We have a lot of youth, but those girls are long, athletic and strong.”

Southmoreland challenged for the Section 3-4A title last year and made the WPIAL quarterfinals before falling to Blackhawk, 54-34.

Among the top returnees are 6-foot senior forward Sarah Pisula, senior guard Charity Henderson, senior guard-forward Erika Sherbody and senior guard Carlie Collins.

“All of our seniors have started before and played many roles,” Pritts said.

Sophomores Bailey Kuhns (5-11), Gracie Spadaro (5-10) and Delaynie Morvosh (5-10) also bring experience and will look to feed into a lineup Pritts thinks could see a nine-player rotation.

He has not named starters.

“It could be a game-by-game, matchup-by-matchup situation,” Pritts said. “We are going to need consistency. And we need to make sure all of the girls know their roles.”

Kuhns has an offer from IUP.

A pair of freshmen also should find their way into the lineup in point guard Olivia Cernuto and 5-11 forward Maddie Moore.

Cernuto has a bright upside.

“Olivia is dynamic with her length and ability to handle the ball,” Pritts said. “Maddie has a great floor presence.”

Pritts said accountability will play a key part in playing time and lineup changes.

“We don’t have rules — we have standards,” he said. “We’re going to be process-driven. We’re going to break things down to the finest detail.”

McKeesport, Belle Vernon and West Mifflin are the top teams in Section 3, Pritts said, his group notwithstanding.

The Scotties open the season in their tip-off tournament against Burrell. They also play Freeport.

Southmoreland added some challenging nonsection opponents such as Baldwin and Mercyhurst Prep in the Cal (Pa.) tournament.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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