Penn Hills girls expect to ride defense this season

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Friday, November 29, 2019 | 12:01 PM


Last season, the Penn Hills girls basketball team was on the doorstep of the WPIAL Class 5A championship game with a senior-led team. This season, the Indians will look to reach the WPIAL title game with a junior-heavy team.

Penn Hills, which finished 20-5 overall and 12-0 in Section 1-5A last season, will have four juniors in the starting lineup: forward Jasmyn Golden, point guard Jayla Golden, guard Amoni Blackwell and forward Delaney Carpenter. Senior forward Niya Moore will be the fifth starter.

The Indians will look to replace the production lost by Adia Brisker (11.3 ppg) and Tayonna Robertson (9.1 ppg) as well as Ariana Dunson and Diamond-Jay Whittington. All are playing at the next level, Brisker at Niagara, Robertson at Longwood, Dunson at Cal (Pa.) and Whittington at La Roche.

“It won’t change our goals here as we still expect to compete for a section championship and WPIAL championship and the state playoffs,” coach Robert Cash said.

“For us, it was about going back to the drawing board and putting in the work in the offseason to get better at the things we weren’t really good at last year and become a more complete team this year.”

Penn Hills’ depth will be tested as Cash will lean on junior Kymora Haley, sophomore Eryn Roberson and senior Michelle Moses to play significant minutes off the bench.

Cash believes the Indians will be one of the top defenses in the WPIAL this year. They outscored opponents 49.4-37.6 on average last season. But if the Indians are to make another deep playoff run, Cash will need more than defense.

“We just needed to become a little bit more consistent jump shooters. We’re fast, quick, athletic and long, which allows us to be a really good defensive team,” Cash said.

“I expect our defense to be one of the best in the WPIAL, but we need to make a lot of jump shots. The work has shown that we’ve been pretty consistent with making some shots.”

Cash will look for the scoring punch to come from Jasmyn Golden, Blackwell and Carpenter as Jayla Golden runs the point, and Moore provides length and athletic ability on the defensive side.

“I feel like we’re just as good as any other team in our section. We have the players that make enough plays on the defensive and offensive side,” Jasmyn Golden said.

“We aren’t going to be as big as everyone else, but if we play defense, we will be fine. There will be some tough ones, but we will have to have some mental toughness as long as we follow the coach’s gameplan.”

Cash has had various points of emphasis this offseason.

“Be consistent with rebounding the basketball. Be consistent with staying focused and making shots. We need to have the drive and will to ball out every single game,” Cash said.

“No game is the same so whatever is need for that game, we will figure it out, come up with a plan and work hard. These kids have been focused and tuned in. We talk about paying attention to detail.”

Penn Hills starts its season at 5 p.m. Dec. 6 against Bethel Park in the North Allegheny Tournament. The season again will include a trip to Washington, D.C., in the middle of January.

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