Greensburg Salem girls look to stay healthy, compete in new Class 4A section

Friday, November 18, 2022 | 4:30 PM

Things were going well for the Greensburg Salem girls basketball team at the start of the 2021-22 season.

The Golden Lions won their first eight games on the way to a 9-1 start. But during their game against Franklin Regional, sophomore center Kaitlyn Mankins went down with a season-ending injury and the season changed.

Coach Rick Klimchock had to make adjustments, and the high-flying Golden Lions had their difficulties.

“At the time, we were 9-1,” Klimchock said. “It was a big loss. It was hard to replace her.”

Mankins was averaging nine points and eight rebounds at the time of the injury.

But Mankins is back for her junior year, looking stronger than ever in the fall leagues and workouts, according to Klimchock.

Ashley Smith and Regan Kerr also return for Golden Lions as they dropped from Class 5A to a tough Class 4A.

Klimchock must essentially replace six starters, including a trio who are playing college sports. Gone is leading scorer Abby Mankins, now at Seton Hill, shooter Carissa Caldwell, now playing basketball and softball at Penn State Fayette, and Kylie Smith, who is playing soccer at Pitt-Greensburg.

“That was a great senior class,” Klimchock said. “They created a great culture for us and left a lasting imprint. We have a great deal of experience returning.”

The 2021-22 Golden Lions finished 15-8 overall and were fourth in Section 4-5A behind Latrobe, McKeesport and Woodland Hills. They lost to South Fayette in the opening round of the playoffs.

Klimchock is eager to see how much senior Paytan Henry, junior Ashley Price and junior Gia Rosensteel have improved. He also is counting on sophomore Blessing Gantt, junior Mackenzie Span and freshman Mia Heasley to contribute. Gantt is recovering from an injury.

“We’ve had a good offseason,” Klimchock said. “We have good size, but if we can improve our ball-handling and passing and everybody does their part, we can be successful.”

The Golden Lions feature Mankins at 6-foot-1, Henry and Gantt at 6-foot and Kerr at 5-11, and Klimchock said he expects the team to be strong defensively.

Greensburg Salem is in a new section that includes North Catholic, Derry, Highlands, Freeport, Knoch and Valley.

“We were in the section a few years ago,” Klimchock said. “There are some good coaches in the section, and every night will be a challenge. The section is loaded. It’s a better fit for us. We developed a few rivalries.”

At a glance

Coach: Rick Klimchock

Last year’s record: 15-8 (6-6 Section 4-5A)

Returning starters: Ashley Smith (Sr., G), Regan Kerr (So. F), Kaitlyn Mankins (Jr. C).

Top newcomers: Gia Rosensteel (Jr., G), Mackenzie Span (Jr., G), Ashley Price (Jr., G), Paytan Henry (Sr., C), Blessing Gantt (So., F).

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


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