Girls basketball preview: Penn Hills has experienced roster, playoff aspirations

Sunday, November 29, 2020 | 11:01 AM

With an experienced roster returning, the Penn Hills girls basketball team will look to make a deep run into the playoffs this season.

The Indians, who finished 12-13 overall with an 8-5 section record last season, return four starters, including senior guards Amoni Blackwell, Jasmyn Golden and Jayla Golden.

Blackwell earned first-team all-section honors last season, while Jasmyn Golden made the second team, and Jayla Golden was chosen honorable mention.

“We lost two good pieces of the team, but we mostly returned the whole team back,” coach Robert Cash said. “We are expecting the same results as any other year. We want to compete for a section championship and look to get to a WPIAL championship.”

Senior forward Delainey Carpenter is the fourth returning starter for the Indians.

“As long as everyone on the court gives 110%, we will do very well this season,” Jasmyn Golden said. “We have enough to get it done. I think we can compete with anyone. We have a great coaching staff. We just need to give effort and execute.”

The Indians will look to replace the production lost from the graduation of Niya Moore. Also, the Indians will not have senior A’Lysa Sledge, a UMass Lowell commit, as she is recovering from a torn ACL suffered in a game for her AAU team, the WPA Bruins, this summer.

“We haven’t crowned anyone starters,” Cash said. “Everybody has to earn their position again. We’re just working to put this thing together.”

Freshman wing Hannah Pugliese will look to make an early contribution for the Indians. Senior Kymora Haley and junior Michelle Moses will add depth.

“We will try to rebound the ball and get out and run,” Cash said. “We will try to execute our system and find the best ways possible for us to be successful. We worked a lot over the summer on making jump shots.

“Hopefully this year we will be shooting our jump shots a little better, which will allow us to open up the floor and create more opportunities.”

Last season, the Indians won four straight games in order to clinch a spot in the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs. The winning streak included a 55-28 upset of Woodland Hills at home in the season finale.

Penn Hills carried the momentum into the WPIAL playoffs as it defeated Plum, 43-35, in the first round. The Indians’ journey ended after a 57-37 loss to Chartiers Valley, the eventual WPIAL champion.

In the PIAA Class 5A playoffs, the Indians lost to Trinity, 54-29, in the first round.

After getting off to a slow start and winning four straight to get into the playoffs, the Indians look to get off to a stronger start this season.

“We need to make shots,” Cash said. “We need to focus for 32 minutes. We need to have determination, passion and play with an attitude. We need to play with a chip on our shoulder. These kids have always played hard. If we do that, we will be there at the end of the day.”

This season, the Indians will be part of a tough Section 4-5A, which includes two section winners from last season, Woodland Hills and Gateway, as well as McKeesport, Latrobe, Greensburg Salem and Franklin Regional.

“We have some new teams in there that I don’t really know about,” Cash said. “It’s going to be a dogfight in the section. We’re just hoping we’re one of the top four teams to get into the playoff race.”

The Indians are scheduled to tip off their season against Bethel Park in the North Allegheny Tournament on Dec. 11. Penn Hills lost its season opener last season to Bethel Park, 62-40.


More Basketball

Penn Hills notebook: Drew Schifino plans basketball camp
Freeport grad takes over boys basketball program
Former OLSH basketball star Jake DiMichele commits to Duquesne
Penn Hills notebook: Daemar Kelly earns all-state honors
New St. Joseph coaches excited to take over basketball programs