Penn-Trafford girls basketball looking to take next step after reaching playoffs last season

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Saturday, December 4, 2021 | 6:08 PM


The Penn Trafford girls basketball team made a return to the WPIAL playoffs last winter.

The Warriors, who finished 10-7 and 9-5 in Section 1-6A, started the season with six consecutive wins but stumbled down the stretch before falling to Baldwin in the first round of the playoffs.

This year’s team will look to build on last season.

“Our goal is as it is every year, and that is to make the playoffs and be playing our best ball at the end of the season,” coach John Giannikas said. “I really love how the players have been competing at practice and pushing each other. They have a great camaraderie, and I believe if they keep working hard, they will have success this upcoming season. The coaching staff is really excited about this group and what they can do.”

Key to Penn-Trafford’s success will be Maura Suman. The senior guard averaged more than nine points last year and ranks fourth in school history in steals and fifth in assists. If Suman averages at least two steals a contest, she will break the school record.

Suman will be joined in the backcourt by sophomore Olivia Pepple, who was the team’s third-leading scorer at 6.9 points per game a freshman. Junior guard Kylie Piconi is also back and helps make a formidable backcourt trio.

“Piconi will be another guard who is a leader on the defensive end and brings added quickness and toughness to the lineup, while also adding another ball-handler on offense. Pepple had some huge scoring nights in section play and elevated her play during the offseason,” Giannikas said.

“Our strength is our guards and their ability to get up and down the floor and create for themselves and others.”

Lilly Palladino, a 5-foot-10 junior forward, also returns and could be the team’s most improved player.

“Palladino will be one of our primary shooters who has worked hard in the offseason to make herself stronger and is playing with great confidence right now,” Giannikas said.

Gone to graduation is last year’s leading scorer, Allie Prady, who scored 12.6 ppg.

Although Suman is the lone senior on the roster, that does not mean the Warriors lack experience.

“Even though we only have one senior, the underclassmen that are playing have major varsity minutes experience. They played in many big, tough games last year that they all learned from,” he said.

Penn Trafford’s section is tough with Butler, North Allegheny, North Hills, Pine-Richland, Seneca Valley and Shaler on the schedule twice a season.

“Our section is very strong this year from top to bottom. NA, Norwin, Shaler, P-R, Seneca, Butler, NH all are solid. Our players are improving every day with the understanding that they still have a lot of work to do and are working towards building chemistry on the court,” he said.

The Warriors open Friday at the McKeesport Tip-Off against Belle Vernon. The section schedule starts Dec. 16 at Seneca Valley.

Penn Trafford girls at a glance

Coach: John Giannikas

Last year’s record: 10-7 (9-5 Section 1-6A)

Returning starters: Maura Suman (Sr., G), Olivia Pepple (So., G), Kylie Piconi (Jr., G), Lilly Palladino (Jr., F)

Top newcomers: Elle Visco (So., G), Kamryn Pieper (Fr., G/F), Lauren Marton (Fr., F)

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