Girls basketball preview: Young Burrell lineup eager to show how much it’s improved

Tuesday, November 24, 2020 | 5:55 PM

Allison Fisher is ready.

The Burrell junior guard is excited for what her team, still youthful but experienced at the varsity level, can do this season.

No one graduated from last year’s team, which battled in and out of a loaded Section 1-4A and finished 3-18 overall and 2-12 in the section.

“We’re all ready for this season,” said Fisher, who led the team in scoring at 13.8 points per game as a sophomore. “There are new people to play in the section, more local schools, and we are ready to show how much we’ve improved from last year. I think we all grew together and got more aggressive at the end of last season and throughout the offseason. We’ve all become better mentally, too.”

Also back to form the core of this year’s team are returning starters in junior forward Hope Clark and junior guard Olivia Watts.

Watts averaged 9.3 points and 3.6 rebounds last year, and Clark checked in with 5.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists a contest.

“Olivia played all last year and was coming off an injury from her freshman year, which limited her growth a little bit,” coach Joel Ceraso said. “But she is 100% and ready to go this year. Hope does things which don’t always show up in the scorebook or in the paper, like handling the ball and making sure we are in our offenses and defenses.

“(The juniors) are ready to step up, continue to show what they can do and help the team have that success we haven’t been able to have the past couple of years.”

Sophomore forwards Riley Sterlitz and Addy Landowski led the team in rebounding last year at seven and five a game, respectively.

“They both have worked hard on their games and are ready to build on really strong freshman seasons,” Ceraso said.

Ceraso said freshman guards Kate Myers and Shelby Wojcik are expected to make an impact.

“We played some in the fall, and Kate adjusted very quickly to the speed of the game and competed well against players who are older than her,” Ceraso said. “She’s a strong ball handler, shooter and defender.

“Shelby’s a skilled, tough kid who shows no fear, no matter who she is facing. She won’t hesitate to hit the floor for a loose ball.”

The lone senior is forward Annie Weimer, who is a soccer commit to Division II Edinboro.

“She’s a great athlete, and we’ll look to use her in instances where we need some athleticism and a little physicality,” Ceraso said.

The Bucs are slated to scrimmage District 9’s Karns City at Burrell next Tuesday before opening the season Dec. 11-12 with their own tournament. Burrell will host Kiski Area on Friday and Laurel on Saturday.

The Burrell boys also will host tournament games.

“Kiski has stepped up in a big way and will host some games we can’t,” Ceraso said.

The Burrell girls return to Section 1-4A and face Deer Lakes, Derry, Freeport, Highlands, Knoch and Valley. North Catholic, a section power the past several seasons, has moved down to Class 3A. Greensburg Salem and Indiana moved up to Class 5A, and Apollo-Ridge now is in Class 2A.

Knoch and Freeport finished tied for second place in the section last year.

“My favorite part of this section is the local flavor,” Ceraso said. “It’s going to be a really good section. Knoch is still the cream of the crop with a lot of people coming back. Even though Freeport lost several starters, they have a lot of kids, like us, who spend a lot of time on their games. Deer Lakes will be tough, too.

“I think we can compete for one of the four playoff spots, if they will send four to the playoffs. We’ll have a challenging road ahead of us, but the girls are ready to compete and win.”

Burrell girls at a glance

Coach: Joel Ceraso

Last year’s record: 3-18 (2-12 Section 1-4A)

Returning starters: Allison Fisher (Jr., G), Hope Clark (Jr., F), Olivia Watts (Jr, G), Addy Landowski (So., F), Riley Sterlitz (So., F)

Top newcomers: Kate Myers (Fr., G), Shelby Wojcik (Fr., G)

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at or via Twitter .


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