Penn Hills girls basketball to have different look but same expectations

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Monday, March 15, 2021 | 1:02 PM


The Penn Hills girls basketball team will have a new look to its lineup for 2021-22.

With five seniors and one junior on this year’s team roster, look for a group of fresh faces to be incorporated into next year’s lineup by coach Robert Cash.

It will be a true rebuilding process.

“Our expectations don’t change here,” Cash said. “We have built this program from the bottom and expect to win games every year. We will work extra hard this offseason to get our young kids ready to play.

“We expect to compete with the best teams in Western Pennsylvania again next year. Hard work pays off. Our expectations are always to compete for section, WPIAL and state championships.”

The five seniors — guards Amoni Blackwell, Jasmyn Golden and Jayla Golden, center Delainey Carpenter and guard/forward Kymora Haley — will be missed next year.

Blackwell, the Golden twins and Carpenter were returning all-section starters in 2020-21 while Haley added depth to the lineup. Jasmyn Golden was the Indians’ leading scorer; Jayla Golden was a team leader from her point guard position.

Also, the Indians did not have senior A’Lysa Sledge, a UMass Lowell commit, who suffered a torn ACL in a game for her AAU team, the WPA Bruins, last summer.

“I am proud of my senior class as they have helped keep the program very competitive,” Cash said. “They come in to high expectations and they took those expectations and ran with them. I would like to wish them the best of luck on their future and the Penn Hills Lady Indians will always be home to them. We will look to stay at the top as they move on to college.”

Penn Hills finished 10-8 this season after posting a 1-1 record in the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs. The Indians, who won three of their final four regular-season contests, rolled past Uniontown, 56-19, in the preliminary round before dropping a 39-34 decision to Fox Chapel in Round 1.

Looking to step up into more prominent roles in 2021-22 will be junior guard Eryn Roberson, sophomore center Ciara Epperson, sophomore guard Maura Wade, along with Hannah Pugliese, a freshman guard/forward.

“Freshman Hannah Pugliese was a pleasant surprise for us,” Cash said. “We expected her to help somewhere coming in, but by the end of the year she was ready for major minutes.

“We also had some other younger kids we felt OK with playing at the varsity level. Maura Wade and Ciara Epperson gave us good minutes at some point. We felt confident if we needed to play them more for whatever reason.”

The sophomore class also was represented on this year’s Penn Hills team by Olivia Smith, Sierra Moten and Mylah Falk. Smith is listed as a center. Moten is a backcourt player and Falk is a guard/forward.

The Indians ended up with a 3-3 record in Section 4-5A, trailing Latrobe (9-1), Woodland Hills (10-2) and McKeesport (6-3).

Gateway, Greensburg Salem and Franklin Regional rounded out the section.

Penn Hills defeated Gateway twice and Greensburg Salem once in section play.

The Indians’ other wins were achieved against Quaker Valley (4A), Oakland Catholic (5A) twice, Winchester Thurston (2A), Mt. Lebanon (6A), Butler (6A) and Uniontown in the WPIAL preliminary round.

“This was a tough season for us as we won our season opener and then had a three-week layoff,” Cash said. “We always play one of the toughest schedules in the area so we didn’t have room for any mistakes. I was very proud of the team. We were able to stay away from covid and keep everyone together.”

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