Experienced, talented Chartiers Valley girls roster looks to put it all together

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Saturday, November 18, 2023 | 11:01 AM


The first season for the Chartiers Valley girls basketball program under coach Mike Semplice came to an end in heartbreaking fashion after losing to Mt. Lebanon, 47-46, in the WPIAL Class 6A quarterfinals.

However, the tough loss provided Semplice and the Colts with valuable lessons that can be applied for the upcoming season as the entire team is returning.

“I basically told the girls after watching all the film that it came down to not being disciplined and not being very detailed and some decision-making problems,” Semplice said.

“Being a new coach, I didn’t do a good job in coaching them up in those areas. If we are better in those areas with the talent we have, we have a chance to be very successful.”

The Colts will be led by senior guard Ella Cupka, who averaged 14 points per game last season.

“I think everybody has matured as players and has gotten better. I think we will be calmer since everybody last year was an underclassman,” Cupka said. “We play best when we all work the ball and everybody is locked in. That’s how it’s been for the last month or two at open gym. We’ve been really dialed in.”

The first-team all-section selection will be accompanied by junior forward Emma Reynolds and junior guard Lilah Turnbull, who averaged 12 and 10 points respectively last season.

Reynolds was a second-team all-section selection, while Turnbull was honorable mention.

While Cupka might garner more attention from opposing teams, Semplice was very complimentary about what Reynolds provides to the Colts.

“She’s our best all-around athlete,” Semplice said. “She can stretch the floor, and she can play with her back to the basket. She can guard both ways on defense as she can guard against a guard or a post player.”

Junior guard Ava Shazer will also bring back her 3-point ability to the starting lineup.

Junior guards Iyla Ozbey and Natalia Palumbo will look to contribute on the defensive end for the Colts as Semplice stated they are the team’s best on-ball defenders.

Junior forward Katie Johnson is returning after missing last season due to a knee injury. The Colts will also welcome junior guard Rachel Boehm, who’s a transfer from Bishop Canevin.

“We have girls that can shoot it. We have girls that can take you off the dribble. We have some post presence. We are pretty balanced,” Semplice said. “We are preaching the team concept. They need to buy in and keep it together. I think sometimes we played a little disjointed and weren’t playing like a team.”

Last season, the Colts started 5-2 with wins over Elizabeth Forward, Butler and Montour, who each qualified for the playoffs. However, Chartiers Valley finished 6-6 in Section 2-6A action, which was good for third in the section just ahead of Peters Township and Baldwin.

“It comes down to the little things,” Semplice said. “If we outhustle people, we outrebound and defend the whole game. We played well in spurts but never put it together for an entire game. We need to make sure we do that this year in order to make it to the postseason.”

The Colts will tip off their season when they participate in the Keystone Oaks Tournament on Dec. 1-2.

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