New Latrobe girls basketball coach Mackenzie Livingston stressing defense

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Monday, November 20, 2023 | 4:29 PM


When Mackenzie Livingston was hired as a physical education teacher at Latrobe, she was excited to learn the district was looking for a new girls basketball coach.

It will be the 2013 Blairsville graduate’s first head coaching job. She played college basketball at IUP and Lock Haven.

She spent the last six years as an assistant at Blairsville (four years) and the newly merged River Valley (Blairsville and Saltsburg, two years).

She quickly got her new team in a summer league in Blairsville to see what type of talent Mark Burkhardt left her. Burkhardt resigned after his eighth season with the Wildcats.

Returning players include three guards — junior Carley Berk, senior Belle Blossey and senior Elle Snyder — who spent much of last season passing the ball to the post players.

Latrobe finished 14-9 overall and 6-6 in Section 3-5A, losing to Trinity in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs.

Livingston will change the Wildcats’ style because of the team’s strong backcourt.

“My main focus is defense,” Livingston said. “If we can’t stop our opponents, we’ll struggle. We want to pressure the ball. We have quickness, and we have eight girls who can get after it.

“We have to use our defense to help our offense. I want to make games ugly. I’m comfortable with low-scoring games until our offense catches up.”

The bulk of the offense last season came from the post players. Berk is the top returning scorer.

“Belle and Elle we more distributors,” Livingston said. “We’ll have to become balanced. I feel we’ll have eight or nine players that can score double-digits.”

Livingston said she learned a lot about her team during the summer.

Along with the three returning starters, the other girls vying for playing time include senior guard Kayla Williams, senior forward Addison Toy, sophomore guard Brylee Bodnar, sophomore guard Brianna Havrilla, junior forward Kenzie Johnson, senior forward Sami Kronenwetter and freshman forward Maggie Maiers.

Livingston will find out more about her team when it scrimmages North Allegheny and Mt. Pleasant on Nov. 25 and Greensburg Central Catholic on Nov. 28.

The Wildcats open the season against Richland on Dec. 1 in the River Valley Tip-Off Tournament. They’ll play River Valley or Cambria Heights on Dec. 2.

Latrobe plays in the tough Section 3-5A with Oakland Catholic, McKeesport, Penn-Trafford, Albert Gallatin, Connellsville and Thomas Jefferson.

“The goal is to qualify for the playoffs, and I believe we can,” Livingston said. “I feel we’re capable of winning in the playoffs.”

Latrobe girls at a glance

Coach: Mackenzie Livingston

Last year’s record: 14-9 (6-6 Section 3-5A)

Returning starters: Belle Blossey (Sr., G), Carley Berk (Jr., G) and Elle Snyder (Sr., G).

Top newcomers: Kayla Williams (Sr., G), Addison Toy (Sr., F), Brylee Bodnar (So., G), Brianna Havrilla (So., G), Kenzie Johnson (Jr., F), Sami Kronenwetter (Sr., F), G) and Maggie Maiers (Fr., F).

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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