Highlands girls basketball team ready to take next step under new coach

Sunday, November 28, 2021 | 5:02 PM

After finishing .500 and in fourth place last season in Section 1-4A, the Highlands girls basketball team is ready to make a jump toward the top.

With practically everybody back and two newcomers on the scene, the team feels ready.

Jason Kerr has taken over as coach, and former Burrell and IUP standout Natalie Myers is there to assist him.

The process of getting acquainted with his new players is complete, Kerr said.

“We’ve been playing all fall and all summer,” Kerr said. “We played in two fall leagues, and we hosted our own summer league. We played at least 50 games, so there shouldn’t be any issues about installing what we want to install.”

The Golden Rams finished 6-6 in section play and 9-13 overall, losing to Blackhawk in the playoff opener.

Kerr will have a number of options and indicates the starters and people coming off the bench could change depending upon the opponent.

Backcourt starters Jocelyn Bielak, Maria Fabregas and Kalleigh Nerone have returned, along with senior center Jocelyn Luzier, and Kate Myers and Shelby Wojcik have come over from Burrell. Ava Nitowski and Casey Teriberry also are expected to contribute.

It hasn’t taken long for Kerr, a top-notch guard during his days at Ford City, to get to know the section opposition, either.

“We played a number of teams in our section over the offseason,” Kerr said. “We came in late. But we’re not going to sneak up on anyone. We’ve done very well over the summer and into the fall. Our expectations are to win the section, and the girls know that.”

Highlands begins the new season in the Freeport Tip-off Classic against Fox Chapel. Organizers are going with a pre-determined, classic format in order to avoid section rival Freeport.

It will begin a busy period of games for the Golden Rams with five games in seven nights, including the section opener with Burrell.

“We’re trying to play some against the larger classifications,” Kerr said. “That’s what we wanted to do. We’ll also have our own Christmas tournament against Mars, Winchester Thurston and Connellsville.”

The players are eagerly awaiting the season.

Besides schools already mentioned, Highlands section opponents include Deer Lakes, Derry Area, Knoch and Valley. Local rivalries and shorter bus rides are players’ preferences.

“I like the section. I know a lot of girls from the area that are close by,” Fabregas said. “It’s more competitive that way and more fun.”

The Highlands girls program has made the playoffs nine times in the past.

At a glance

Coach: Jason Kerr

Last year’s record: 9-13 (6-6 in Section 1-4A)

Returning starters: Jocelyn Bielak (Sr. G), Maria Fabregas (Sr. G), Kalleigh Nerone (Jr. G), Jocelyn Luzier (Sr., C)

Top newcomers: Kate Myers (So. G/F), Shelby Wojcik (So. G), Ava Nitwoski (Jr. F), Casey Teriberry (So. F).


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