Latrobe’s Emma Blair named Tribune-Review Westmoreland Girls Basketball Player of the Year

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Saturday, April 2, 2022 | 8:44 PM


Emma Blair

Latrobe, Jr., F

Emma Blair is known for her ability to play in the post.

But what really makes her the player she is, what truly rounds her off, is her ability to rebound the basketball.

The 6-foot-1 junior forward knows how to get position under the rim and pull down missed shots like they are hundred-dollar bills. Her versatility and strong defensive play made her a unique matchup for opponents.

It also separated her as the Trib Westmoreland Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

Gracie Spadaro of Southmoreland, Abby Mankins of Greensburg Salem, Maura Suman of Penn-Trafford and Tiana Moracco of Derry also were considered.

Latrobe coach Mark Burkhardt said Blair has made sacrifices to better complement the team, even saying she is sometimes too unselfish on offense. In other words, she could probably score more, but instead revels in the dirty work.

He calls her a “throwback.”

A third-year starter, Blair averaged 13.6 points and 12.5 rebounds and shot 56% from the field.

She grabbed 180 defensive rebounds to ignite offensive runs. And don’t forget her 32 steals and a minuscule 1.8 fouls a game.

“When you watch her play as a fan, there is nothing flashy that catches your eye,” Burkhardt said. “However, when the game is over, she has filled up the stat sheet with another double-double. She doesn’t allow outside influences or pressure to affect her. As Mike Sullivan would say, ‘She just plays’ and is extremely consistent every game.”

Latrobe finished 18-5 and reached the WPIAL 5A quarterfinals, where it lost to eventual champion South Fayette. The Wildcats returned to the PIAA playoffs for the first time in 23 years.

Blair shined when another Wildcats’ standout, IUP commit Anna Rafferty, went down with an injury and missed five games.

“Emma elevated her game,” Burkhardt said.

Blair had a 20-point, 20-rebound game against Gateway. She had 23 and 16 when the Wildcats played Woodland Hills.

“We improved from past seasons,” Blair said. “I feel like I am improving more offensively and working on my post game. I want to be able to shoot more next year. I may need to shoot from farther out.”

Blair is beginning to hear from some Division II schools from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference such as Seton Hill and Shippensburg.

“She is also an excellent defender and many times would have to guard players much smaller and quicker but she always got the job done,” Burkhardt said. “Emma is willing to do what is necessary to help the team win.

“You will find few players of her skill level who go out and play hard every game and their only concern is their teams’ success.”

First team

Olivia Cernuto

Jr., G, Southmoreland

Backcourt leader averaged 12.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 3.4 steals for the Scotties. Has 875 career points.

Bailey Kuhns

Sr., F, Greensburg Central Catholic

Go-to post player and Mercyhurst commit who can also play guard, she averaged 16.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.3 assists.

Mercedes Majors

Sr., G, Monessen

Led Greyhounds back to WPIAL playoffs, averaging 19 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.4 steals and 3.9 assists.

Abby Mankins

Sr., G, Greensburg Salem

Led Golden Lions with 14.8 scoring average, 5.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.3 steals. Seton Hill commit finished with 1,280 career points.

Tiana Moracco

Sr., G, Derry

Became all-time leading scorer at Derry, averaging 21.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.3 steals. Finished career with 1,163 points.

Anna Rafferty

Sr., F, Latrobe

Last year’s local player of the year and an IUP commit, she averaged 12.2 points and 10 rebounds a game for the Wildcats.

Gracie Spadaro

Sr., F, Southmoreland

An IUP commit, she averaged 14.7 points, 6.1 rebounds,1.8 assists and 2.7 steals per game. Completed career with 1,188 points.

Maura Suman

Sr., G, Penn-Trafford

Averaged 11.3 points, 3.3 steals, and finished as the program’s all-time steals leader with 255. Her 219 assists are fifth all-time at Penn-Trafford.

Brianna Zajicek

Sr., G, Norwin

Alderson Broaddus commit averaged 9.4 points for a balanced, defense-first playoff team.

Second team

Haley Boyd

Jr., G, Ligonier Valley

Jenna Dawson

Jr., G, Belle Vernon

Camille Dominick

Jr., G/F, Latrobe

Viva Kreis

Jr., G, Belle Vernon

Brooke McCoy

Jr., G, Hempfield

Mya Morgan

So., G, Greensburg Central Catholic

Lauren Palangio

So., F, Norwin

Olivia Pepple

So., G, Penn-Trafford

Elle Snyder

So., G, Latrobe

Tiffany Zelmore

Jr., F, Mt. Pleasant

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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