Jeannette girls to rely on group effort to navigate Section 3-2A schedule
Monday, November 27, 2017 | 8:18 PM
When the Pittsburgh Pirates won the 1979 World Series, they adopted the Sister Sledge song “We Are Family” as a motto.
The 2017-18 Jeannette girls basketball team could do the same.
“Coach (Janine) Vertacnik has us thinking family,” senior Chloe Stein said. “We're all about playing as a family on the court.”
Jeannette missed the WPIAL playoffs in Vertacnik's first season back in her second stint at Jeannette. The Jayhawks finished 4-10 in Section 3-2A and 7-15 overall.
But Vertacnik knows if the team is going to be successful, everyone has to contribute. Jeannette must replace three players from the 2016-17 team, including leading scorer Olivia Sirnic, who tallied more than a 1,000 points in three seasons.
Returning are juniors Dymond Crawford and Stein, sophomore Jade Bass and senior Payt'n Detar.
Vertacnik also welcomed back junior Alexis Williams, who transferred back from Greensburg Central Catholic. She'll be one of the forwards.
“Those four will start,” Vertacnik said. “We have six others battling for the fifth starting spot.
“We are large in numbers and heart but small in size and short on experience. We're going to hold everyone accountable.”
One area Vertacnik said must improve is taking care of the basketball. The Jayhawks struggled with turnovers in a scrimmage against Southmoreland over the weekend.
Jeannette is in a section with perennial power Greensburg Central Catholic, Serra Catholic, California, Beth-Center and Frazier.
“We have a balanced section,” Vertacnik said. “It's important to win your home games and steal a win or two on the road.”
Stein, who has battled knee problems during her high school career, said the team likely will be an underdog, but they're not fazed by it.
“I feel we're going to surprise a lot of people,” Stein said. “We're working hard and ready to go.”
Deter said: “I feel we can be a decent team. Everyone has to do their job and play as a family.”
Vertacnik said she likes the team's work ethic.
“We have to develop some depth,” Vertacnik said. “We have a good group of girls who are willing to learn. In the scrimmage, we defended well. We just had too many unforced turnovers.
“We have to control the boards and have balanced scoring. If we get that, we'll be in a lot of games.”
If that occurs, Jeannette might shock some teams in the section.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .