Girls basketball preview: Veteran coach hopes young Derry roster can build on success

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Tuesday, November 24, 2020 | 4:29 PM


Things couldn’t have gone much better last season for Derry girls basketball coach Gene Brisbane, who took over a program in flux.

The Trojans finished second in Section 3-3A and qualified for the WPIAL playoffs. Derry lost to Freedom, 47-32, in the opening round, but the former Hempfield and Westmoreland County Community College coach couldn’t have been happier with how things turned out.

“I was pretty pleased with the season overall,” Brisbane said. “The seniors showed good leadership. We steadily improved, and it was fun.”

Graduation took away five seniors including Kamryn Kelly, who is playing softball at Shenandoah, and Hannah Wedow, who is playing basketball at Pitt-Greensburg.

Derry returns one starter, junior guard and leading scorer Tiana Moracco, and one other letterman, junior forward Emma Huber. Moracco averaged 13.3 points.

“We’re definitely going to be inexperienced,” Brisbane said. “A lot of my bench players will be freshmen and sophomores. Because of the coronavirus, our progress has been slowed. We’ve had few practices. It’s going to be tough. I’ve talked to Tiana, and what she needs to do is expand her game and show more leadership. I’m confident she will.”

Brisbane said not being able to practice has made it hard for the team to develop any consistency.

He is counting on senior Alanna Meloy, who did not play her junior year, junior Abby Doperak, sophomores Mara Lewis and Sara Bungard and freshman Rachelle Marinchek to step up and play prominent roles.

Derry was supposed to practice for the first time Monday.

“There is a lot of uncertainty, when we play and when or if we practice,” Brisbane said. “I just hope once we get started, I see consistency and steady improvement.”

Derry moved from Class 3A to 4A into a section with Burrell, Deer Lakes, Freeport, Highlands, Knoch and Valley. Brisbane said Deer Lakes, Freeport and Knoch are probably the favorites.

“Our goals are to have a winning season, make the playoffs and win the section,” Brisbane said. “Obviously, winning the WPIAL title and make it to the states are other goals.

“I just want to see us play good team defense, good team offense and improve every day.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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