Penn Hills’ Dunson recognized for defensive play

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Thursday, March 28, 2019 | 9:47 PM


Penn Hills’ Ariana Dunson has been known for the heart and effort she plays with on the defensive end of the court.

That style of play will help her continue to play basketball at the collegiate level.

The senior guard plans to play at Cal (Pa.) next fall.

“I loved it there when I visited there. I loved the coaches and the players. They were so happy, and I need to be around a happy environment,” Dunson said. “I think those four years when I go to Cal are going to be amazing. They really wanted me. They were texting my coaches. They were really interested.”

Dunson averaged 7.6 points, 3.3 steals, 3.1 assists and 2.1 rebounds.

The 5-foot-6 guard visited Cal in February. She plans to major in sports management.

Dunson, a four-year starter, wasn’t sure if playing at the collegiate level would be a possibility but is excited she will continue to play the game she loves.

“It’s amazing because I never thought it was going to be like this. I’m happy to have an opportunity to play at the next level,” Dunson said.

Penn Hills (17-8, 11-3) lost to Chartiers Valley, 45-37, in the WPIAL Class 5A semifinals Feb. 27. In the state playoffs, the Indians lost to Oakland Catholic, 39-27, in the second round March 13.

“It was heartbreaking because we wanted it so much for this year. It’s hard because we all said when we were coming up that we were going to win a WPIAL and state championship,” Dunson said.

During her senior season, Dunson received second-team all-section honors. As a junior, Dunson took over point guard duties and averaged 10.0 points.

Dunson is the third member of the Penn Hills girls basketball program who will play at the collegiate level. Senior guard Adia Brisker will play at Niagara, and senior forward Tayonna Robertson will play at Longwood.

“Her commitment is a good opportunity for herself. We always knew she was a good player. We knew she was special and important to our team. I’m happy with the opportunity she’s getting with Cal,” Penn Hills coach Robert Cash said. “Every time she steps on the court, she gives everything she’s got. She’s very skilled, very talented. Ariana is a kid that not every program is going to have just from how hard she works, and she’s not a vocal leader but she leads by example.”

Dunson will be joining a Cal program that is coming off a 26-6 overall record with a 17-4 record in PSAC action. The Vulcans lost 67-62 to Kutztown in the PSAC semifinals March 9. The program made it to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Division II tournament before losing to IUP, 68-60, on March 18.

“If she brings that intensity she brought at Penn Hills, the defensive effort and all those type of things she will have a good career at Cal,” Cash said.

Dunson will make sure to make her impact is felt on the defensive end as she continues to grow her offensive game.

“They are going to use me for my defense at first,” she said. “They think there is a big role for me with my defense and my offense will come to me.”

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