New coach with college ties looks to turn around North Hills girls program

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Saturday, December 3, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Tony Grenek wants his new team to stand up to the bullies.

Grenek, hired this offseason to lead North Hills’ struggling girls basketball program, brings years of success in the college ranks and hopes that now translates to the high school game.

“My wife and I just absolutely love the North Hills School District,” said Grenek, who coached Point Park’s women’s team the last 11 seasons. “I think it’s the greatest school district around.”

Not only did Grenek coach at Point Park, but he also had a solid stint at Seton Hill, including five seasons as the program’s head coach, and also spent time at Butler County Community College.

The success that he found in his college stops may initially be harder to come across at North Hills.

The Indians finished last season 1-21, winless in Section 1-6A at 0-14.

A year later, however, North Hills will face a new slate of competition, dropping down to Class 5A. With that has come some new enthusiasm for the game at the school.

“Our numbers are up this year,” who has coached high school ball before — at Shannock Valley. “We have 21 players. We’re able to put out a legitimate junior varsity team. We revamped the junior high program a little bit, and I was able to bring some coaches in.”

Those coaches are two of his former players at Point Park in Sam Weir and North Hills grad Jordan O’Malley.

“It’s a family atmosphere, and I’m excited to hopefully try to help bring some success for our girls basketball program,” Grenek said.

Grenek’s daughter, Marley, is a freshman at North Hills and is returning to basketball after taking a couple of years off. She’ll join a group that was very inexperienced last season, with no seniors on the roster in 2021-22.

“We have a nice core of 10 to 12 players,” said Grenek. “We have some athleticism, and we’re going to look to play pretty fast and pressure the basketball.”

Honorable mention all-section player Olivia Walters will handle the point guard position, and Grenek expects big things from the junior. Seniors Darby West, Tatyanna Bermudez and Sarah Thornton all provide experience and leadership, and junior Gianna Sturdivant has impressed Grenek through the offseason.

Gia Minton, a junior, has perhaps taken the biggest steps since Grenek came aboard.

“She’s really stood out as a player that can take it to the basket and put the ball in the hoop for us,” he said.

But, overall, a larger roster and improved mindset will be the Indians’ biggest asset.

“We can do a lot of different things,” Grenek said. “We’ve got some nice depth.

“The girls have great attitudes. They work hard, and we’re trying to build a culture of getting up and down the floor and getting after it, and not being intimidated by anyone. And we’re really making positive strides right now.”

Intimidation is something that Grenek is working hardest to buck. Last year, North Hills was outscored by opponents by over 44 points per game and scored just 22 points per game — the fourth-lowest mark in the WPIAL.

Now, with a new section that features strong programs like Mars, Hampton and Armstrong, as well as Fox Chapel, New Castle and rival Shaler, Grenek wants the Indians to feel like they can compete night in and night out.

“The one thing that I say all the time is I don’t want to be bullied,” he said. “We need to walk into that gymnasium with our heads held high, and teams need to know that we’re going to come ready to play.

“I already told them that I will never, ever accept games like 54-10. That’s just inexcusable. We’re going to fight. We’re going to scratch. We’re going to claw for everything that we have. And whether we win or lose, I don’t want to back down from anybody and not be intimidated by anyone.”

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