Moon girls basketball trying to keep pace in rugged Section 1-5A

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Wednesday, January 29, 2020 | 11:55 PM


The Moon girls basketball team lost twice in December, and twice in January.

The Tigers are hoping to keep that record intact Thursday in a key section test at home against Trinity.

Just as the Moon girls avenged an early season loss to Thomas Jefferson with a 55-52 victory Jan. 16 at TJ, the Tigers are aiming to even the score with Trinity, who captured a narrow 56-54 decision Jan. 6 on its home floor.

Moon is riding a six-game winning streak and has won 12 of its past 14 contests, extending its record to 14-4.

“This is the most successful season we’ve had at Moon since I have been here,” said Jody Powell, the Tigers fifth-year coach. “This team has great potential, and the girls work hard every day to get better.

“There is still much room to grow and develop, but hopefully, we’ll be playing beyond the regular season.”

The Tigers have moved into third place in Section 1-5A with an 8-3 record. Chartiers Valley leads at 11-0, followed by Trinity (9-2), Moon and TJ (7-4).

And the Tigers already have eclipsed last season’s win total when they ended up 13-9 and tied for fourth in the section but lost out on tiebreakers for the playoffs.

“My expectations at the beginning of this season were to build on the success from last season,” Powell said.

Three players paramount to the Tigers’ success are sophomores Reilly Sunday and Emma Theodorsson and senior Aubree Evans.

“The starting lineup has changed quite a few times because we have several players capable of contributing,” Powell said. “Reilly, Emma and Aubree have been starting consistently. The other two spots have been filled with players that perhaps offer a specific advantage, be it size or perhaps defensive aggressiveness.”

Evans is a 5-foot-7 guard, three-year starter and fourth-year varsity member.

“This is one of the most successful seasons our program has had in years, and we’re working to make this success consistent,” Evans said. “We keep ourselves focused on the immediate future and take everything game by game. I think we share the same goal as many teams, and that is to make a run in playoffs.

“I expect us to only work harder as we get closer and closer to achieving our goal.”

Evans and her teammates are primarily focused on the season’s stretch run, followed by a strong performance in the WPIAL playoffs.

“Prior to the start of the season, we knew the potential we had,” Evans said. “However, we knew absolutely that everything had to be earned. Nothing would be given to us, especially in the talented section that Section 1-5A is. We got into the weight room and gym early in the summer and started the work we knew we’d need to do to be successful.

“I couldn’t be more proud of my team and our performance thus far. There are still things we are working on, but we have taken defeats and setbacks as lessons to learn, not unfixable weaknesses.

“We are all on the same page that it could be any one of us who is needed any given night, and we trust in each other. I couldn’t think of a more unselfish and tight-knit group of girls to call my teammates.”

Sunday, a 5-9 guard, has received offers from Robert Morris, Marshall, Colgate, Toledo, Youngstown State and Western Michigan. She is averaging about 19 points after finishing with a 17.5 ppg mark last winter.

Sunday recently was named WPIAL Girls Basketball Player of the Week by TribLive HSSN.

Moon wrapped up the first half of section play Jan. 13 with a 55-35 win at rival Montour as Sunday scored 30 points. She followed with 26 at TJ, then racked up 31 in a 74-52 win against McKeesport in the Martin Luther King Jr. Showcase at Woodland Hills.

As efficient as Sunday is in the scoring department, Powell said the sophomore hoopster’s ball-handling skills rate with the best in the WPIAL.

Theordorsson is a 6-1 guard/forward and Bishop Canevin transfer who is receiving Division I interest. She is averaging 14 points after tossing in 12.4 last season.

Evans is one of three seniors on the squad, along with 5-4 guard Sofia Mancini and 5-8 forward Mikala Powell. There also are three juniors: 5-9 forward Cassie Depner, 5-3 guard Jursye Smith and 5-4 guard Alexis Hvostal.

“I’ve been having a great senior season,” Evans said. “For me, a major part of my growth as a player came from learning my role and how I can be an asset to this team. My biggest role is being our team captain. It is a standard I am grateful to uphold, to be the one my teammates can turn to in any given situation.

“I’m expected to lead our team by making sure we are executing and being an asset both offensively and defensively. Having such talented teammates as Reilly and Emma alleviates the need for me to be a primary scorer, so I often look for the extra pass or control our offense to get the highest percentage shot.”

Along with Sunday, Theordorsson and Evans, Mancini, Smith, Depner and Sarah Santicola, a 6-1 sophomore center, have developed integral roles for the Tigers.

“Sofia gives us great toughness and lateral quickness defensively,” Powell said. “And Sarah has been starting the past few games. At 6-1, she offers a definite size advantage. As a sophomore, she is developing very nicely.”

Theodorsson, Santicola, Depner and Sunday lead the team on the boards.

“Emma and Sarah are among the top shot blockers in the section,” Powell said.

Evans, Mancini and Smith are team captains for the Tigers, who already have made an impression on the rest of the WPIAL.

They have become a force and should continue to be in the future.

Powell has a strong sophomore class of seven players to work with, along with seven top freshman prospects.

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