Graduations, injury to PG Cernuto leave Southmoreland girls basketball with voids to fill

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Sunday, November 27, 2022 | 8:17 PM


If Southmoreland’s current run of WPIAL playoff appearances in girls basketball is to continue, the Scotties likely will need to reach deep down for a little something extra this season.

It’s one thing to lose to graduation three starters from a 19-5 team that reached the second round of the PIAA Class 4A playoffs. It’s another to add the unexpected loss of your returning senior point guard and unquestioned team leader.

Really, who’s left in the experience department?

“We’re working to see who works well together and who’s giving forth the effort,” said Southmoreland coach Amber Cernuto, whose daughter, Olivia, will miss the season while recovering from a torn ACL.

“We have some big shoes to fill. I guess you could say it’s a rebuilding year for us a little sooner than we expected, but the girls have been very positive at practice. Our goal is to make the playoffs again and compete for the section title for a fourth (consecutive) season.”

Only one starter — senior Maddie Moore — returns to the Scotties’ lineup as Southmoreland enters the final week of preseason workouts hoping to find an ideal rotation in time for the season-opening Southmoreland Tipoff Tournament on Friday and Saturday.

Seemingly, the process begins with Moore, a 6-foot-1 forward, who is looking to improve on her averages of 9.0 points and 8.5 rebounds per game a year ago.

“She can be a big threat from the inside and outside,” Amber Cernuto said.

With the majority of the team’s regular lineup gone, including 5-11 Grace Spodaro, the leading scorer (15.5 ppg) and rebounder (8.5 rpg), who is a freshman forward at IUP, coach Cernuto will turn to an inexperienced group for a jump-start.

Delaynie Morvosh (8.5 ppg) and Elle Pawlikowski are the other starters lost to graduation.

Junior Bea Pawlikowsky, the junior varsity team’s point guard last season, is working to fill-in for Olivia Cernuto on the varsity squad.

“She’s familiar with the position, and she has seen some varsity time there,” Amber Cernuto said. “But, really, I don’t have a set lineup yet. Bea has some experience, and she’s familiar with the program.”

Olivia Cernuto, a forward for the Southmoreland girls soccer team with an even 100 career goals scored, injured her right knee on Sept. 12 against Yough. She underwent surgery in October to repair a torn ACL.

A three-sport athlete, Cernuto:

— Scored a team-leading 18 goals through seven soccer games this season at Southmoreland before being sidelined.

— Was the Scotties’ second-leading scorer (14.0 ppg) last season in basketball, where she’s committed to play at Gannon.

— Is the reigning WPIAL triple jump champion.

“It’s a big loss for us at this point, but the girls have really rallied around it and been positive,” Amber Cernuto said. “We’re regrouping.”

Senior guards Reagan Carson and Lilly Wasmund, junior guard Lynzee Moore, 6-0 sophomore forward Olivia Aumer and sophomore guard Lanie Moore are some others battling for playing time.

Amber Cernuto was searching for an assistant’s staff as late as the past weekend following the departures of Susan Spodaro and Rick Thomas, both of whom resigned to devote more time to other obligations.

In the interim, Olivia Cernuto has offered advice whenever she can.

“Olivia wants to be at every practice and be supportive and help in any way she can,” Amber Cernuto said. “She’s someone the girls can use to come out and bounce things off her. She’s going to be a valuable asset in that way. Olivia is still a player and part of the team.”

Southmoreland girls at a glance

Coach: Amber Cernuto

Last year’s record: 19-5 (11-1 in Section 3-4A)

Returning starter: Maddie Moore (Sr., F)

Top newcomers: Lanie Moore (Soph., G), Bea Pawlikowsky (Jr., G), Lilly Wasmund (Sr., G)

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