New Kiski Area girls coach foresees ‘formidable team’

Monday, November 21, 2022 | 8:19 PM

There have been some lean years during the past decade in girls basketball at Kiski Area, but a 9-13 record a year ago represents the most victories since the team went 16-7 during the 2011-12 season, the most recent time the Cavaliers reached the WPIAL playoffs.

Armed with four starters and a new coach, Kiski Area is aiming to get over the hump again and return to the postseason, an optimistic approach for an unproven group.

Dave Williamson, however, the latest to take the coaching reins, prefers to see it more as a realistic goal.

“I don’t want to prognosticate,” he said, “but, yeah, I believe we’ll be a team people will be talking about. Our goal is to do something we haven’t done in awhile.”

Williamson, a Jeannette native, believes he’s where he belongs.

“I’ve lived here for some time now,” he said. “I teach these kids. I’ve coached them. This is a dream job for me. This is my home district.”

Williamson, who has coached boys and girls teams at the middle school, junior varsity and AAU levels since 2012 and is a former student manager for the Robert Morris women’s team, succeeds Nick Dizon, who is entering his first season as coach at Avonworth.

“I’m blessed to be able to coach at Kiski Area. This is a great opportunity,” Williamson said.

The Class 5A Cavaliers are moving to Section 1 from Section 2 this season and will be joined in their new alignment by Franklin Regional, Gateway, Indiana, Penn Hills, Plum and Woodland Hills.

Four starters — all guards — return from a team that struggled to a 3-9 mark in Section 2.

“They were extremely young last year,” Williamson said. “They were a pretty solid team, just really inexperienced. We have the majority of our scoring back, and we expect the girls to take their experiences to another level.”

Kiski Area finished the season strong, winning their final three games and four of the last six — something Williamson said the team can build on this year.

“You could say we’re coming in with a little bit of a swagger,” he said.

The Cavaliers boast a deep backcourt that includes several prolific 3-point shooters.

Senior Lexiann Colaianni tied a school record with 9 3-pointers in a 61-37 victory over Freeport in the season finale a year ago, and early in the year junior Abigail Johns made seven to spark a 55-33 victory over Connellsville.

Juniors Cora Coleman and Emma Peck, whom Williamson refer to as “blue collar-type players,” round out the backcourt.

“Cora will play tough D. She’s smart. She’ll fill up the box score, too, with rebounds. She’s a gritty player,” Williamson said. “Emma can fill it up from 3 and flash to the rim. They’re both tough guards.”

Three forwards — junior Zoe Holm, sophomore Rikiya Garcia-Broaden and 5-foot-10 freshman Gianna Devito — also are expected to be on the floor for chunks of minutes at a time.

“We don’t have any big, tall people, but we have some nice size and we’ll use it,” Williamson said.

The regular rotation of players ranges in height from 5-6 to 5-10.

“I believe you can win games consistently with a guard-oriented lineup if you commit to the glass, obviously,” Williamson said. “It’s going to be tough (for opponents) to score with us. If we put the ball in the hole, we’ll be a formidable team.”

Kiski Area opens its first season under Williamson with a Dec. 8 trip to Class 4A Highlands.

At a glance

Coach: Dave Williamson

Last season’s record: 9-13 (3-9 Section 2-5A)

Returning starters: Lexiann Colaianni (Sr., G), Cora Coleman (Jr., G), Abigail Johns (Jr., G), Emma Peck (Jr., G)

Top newcomers: Gianna Devito (Fr., F)


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