Penn Hills girls hope tough nonsection games pay off in section play

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Thursday, January 2, 2020 | 5:42 PM


Robert Cash never has shied away from having his Penn Hills girls basketball program play against the top teams in the WPIAL.

The Indians’ 3-5 overall record doesn’t look great, but the Indians’ losses came against the top teams in the WPIAL and out-of-state teams. The losses haven’t affected their play against section opponents. The Indians are 2-0 in Section 3-5A, with both wins on the road.

“Obviously, it’s not the start that we wanted, but it’s not a bad start,” Cash said. “We’ve played an excellent schedule so far, which I think is the toughest in the WPIAL.

“We’ve played pretty hard. We’ve done some good things, and we’ve done some bad things. I think we’re in a position to be successful, and we’re just going to go out and win our next game.”

Penn Hills started the season with double-digit losses to Bethel Park and North Allegheny, who remain undefeated, in the North Allegheny Tournament.

The Indians rebounded with a 51-44 win Dec. 12 at section foe Penn-Trafford. Junior forwards Jasmyn Golden and Delainey Carpenter scored 14 points apiece to lead Penn Hills. Junior guard Amoni Blackwell added 13 points.

After getting their first win of the season, the Indians hit the road for the She Got Game Classic in Springfield, Va. Penn Hills lost both games in the tournament: to Chantilly (Va.) 32-24, and Xaverian (N.Y.), 58-34.

The Indians, who didn’t have a home game in December, defeated Latrobe, 45-37, on Dec. 19 in section play. Blackwell and senior forward Niya Moore led the Indians with 12 points each. Golden finished with 10 points.

“I think those two games were two of the biggest games for us so far since they were section games on the road. They were two of the places where we lost last year, which lost us the section championship last year,” Cash said. “Road wins are really good wins as long as you take care of business at home in section. We really put our minds into getting those wins.”

After the win at Latrobe, the Indians faced a tough test against North Catholic in the North Allegheny Christmas Tournament, losing 51-41. North Catholic also is undefeated.

The Indians rebounded the next day with a 40-33 win over Peters Township. Carpenter led the Indians with 14 points, and Blackwell added 10 points.

“For us, we wanted to see our intensity level and how hard we compete,” Cash said. “I think in each and every game, we might have gotten down a bit, but we fought back into the game. No matter what the final score is, that doesn’t give the whole story on how the whole game went.

“Most of those games, we were competing and right there within a few points. At the end of the day, no matter if you lose by a point or 15, it’s still a loss on your record.”

Cash has been pleased with how junior Jayla Golden has handled the point guard spot and how she plays defense.

“In the fall, she was more of a scoring guard, and now she’s more a point guard and leading the team,” Cash said. “She’s doing a good job of controlling the team. She has been competitive and listening to detail.

“Not only is she playing the point guard spot, she’s guarding the opponent’s best wing player night-in and night-out.”

With their tough nonsection schedule mostly out of the way, the Indians will turn their focus to their section schedule with a pair of matchups against Woodland Hills and Oakland Catholic as well as one more matchup at home against Penn-Trafford.

The Indians will look for their defense to generate offense as they average only 38 points and are allowing 45.4 points.

“I think we’ve played the toughest schedule in the Western Pa.,” Cash said. “As long as we keep competing and playing as hard as we’ve been playing by doing the little things, I think we’re in a good position to have a playoff spot somewhere.”

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