Gateway girls basketball sees potential for growth

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Friday, March 6, 2020 | 5:15 PM


The Gateway girls basketball players ended the season waiting and hoping.

When Chartiers Valley, the state’s top-ranked team in Class 5A, defeated Trinity 58-40 in the WPIAL championship game Feb. 29 at Petersen Events Center, Gateway’s section championship-winning season came to an end.

After losing in the quarterfinals Feb. 22 to Trinity, 47-38, the Gators also lost control of their own destiny when it came to qualifying for the PIAA playoffs.

Five WPIAL Class 5A teams clinch a spot in the state tournament, and for the past two seasons, a follow-the-leader system was used to decide who qualifies.

That meant Gateway needed Trinity to win the WPIAL to make states.

“I gave the girls a couple days off to let them kind of decompress,” coach Curtis Williams said of playing the waiting game. “We did get in the gym and take some shots to stay loose just in case, but we were kind of in limbo.”

“They should put in a consolation game to keep teams active who have a chance to go to the state playoffs. I know the WPIAL (likes to) make money, and it’s an opportunity to bring in another gate.”

The Gators finished 10-2 in Section 2-5A competition, good enough to win the section crown for a second straight season. They also won 12 of their last 14 regular-season games to finish with a 17-6 record.

Gateway averaged 32.4 rebounds and 10.1 assists. Senior Lexi Jackson, a Kent State commit, led the team in scoring (12.7 ppg) and averaged 12.6 rebounds.

While sophomore guard Lexi Margolis was the Gators’ second-leading scorer (10.3 ppg), Williams said his guards will benefit from more game experience.

“It’s been a struggle, one of my areas of concern since the beginning of the year was our youth and inexperience at the guard position,” he said. “All of our (veterans were) in the frontcourt with post-players like Jackson, Dynasty Shegog and Annie Garness. We basically played with two freshman and two sophomores at the guard spot.

“There was great inexperience of in-game situations and not knowing how to handle it. I think we grew, but there’s still a lot of growth to be had.”

Margolis scored in double-digits this season 12 times, including a 26-point performance Dec. 7 against Uniontown. She also scored 11 fourth-quarter points in a 37-36 win over Penn-Trafford in the first round of the playoffs.

“I honestly am not at where I would like to be as a player and teammate,” Margolis said. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with some of the things I’m capable of, but I know there is way more I can do. I have so much more to learn about the game. I’m very happy with how competitive I am on the court and how I don’t give up.”

Margolis also said she would like to work on being a leader. She plans to play in AAU leagues during the offseason.

Along with Jackson, Garness and Jihana Bracy will be lost to graduation. They are either centers or forwards, leaving sizable shoes to fill when it comes to post play.

Most of the post production responsibilities will likely be left for junior captain Dynasty Shegog and potentially Grace Weiskircher and Sara D’Andries. Shegog averaged 9.0 ppg and 6.8 rpg with a season-high 17 points in a 59-58 nonsection loss Dec. 10 to Penn-Trafford.

“Knowing we had younger guards, I stepped up. I knew when we needed to score, when to come get the ball and when to get to the hoop,” Shegog said. “Also, I knew I had to crash the boards and get rebounds, but some skills I’m going to be working on over the summer is shooting and (ball-handling) under pressure.”

Robert Scott III is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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