Plum girls looking to take next step with experienced, talented roster

Thursday, December 3, 2020 | 12:51 PM

The Plum girls basketball team was on the brink of the first section title in school history last season but fell a game short.

After a loss in the first round of the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs to Penn Hills, the Mustangs finished their season 14-7. It was their first winning season since they went 12-11 in 2014-15.

Now, the Mustangs are ready to continue building on what they accomplished last season, even if it’s going to be in a strange season surrounded by coronavirus protocols.

“I think we have a lot of great things to build on,” coach Steve Elsier said. “Our No. 1 goal is to win the section, which has never been done in school history, and we were extremely close last year. Then, we want to win some playoff games, which they’ve only won one playoff game in school history. So, I really think this is the year for us to break through with some of those things.”

Since Elsier took over four years ago, seniors Kennedie Montue and Jamie Seneca have helped build the program up, improving every season. Last year, junior Kai Johnson and sophomore Danica Susko started as well, which allowed the Mustangs to build a solid foundation.

After averaging 22.1 points and eclipsing the 1,000-point mark, Montue was named the Valley News Dispatch Girls Basketball Player of the Year and has been the Mustangs’ go-to-scorer.

“She’s a tremendous player, but I think where she’s grown is making her teammates better as well,” Elsier said.

This season, Montue’s game probably will grow even further. Elsier believes with a good batch of young players coming up through the system, the Mustangs will have a good opportunity to spread the ball around more than they have in the past.

“With some of the players coming up, we have some added shooting depth offensively,” Elsier said. “Teams aren’t going to be able to just sit back and play us in a 2-3 or a 3-2 zone. They are going to have to play a little man to man on us, even though they may not want to. I think that will open up things for us as far as spacing and will allow for more players to contribute in terms of scoring, too.”

Elsier said players like sophomore Camryn Rodgers and freshmen Rayla Smith and Megan Marston also could contribute.

With four returning starters and some young talent coming up, Elsier believes the Mustangs also have a good opportunity to get up and down the court in a more up-tempo system compared to years past.

“I think that we have some really good athletes that can run and get up and down the floor, and we need to take advantage of that,” Elsier said. “We did a little bit more of that last year, but I think this year we are going to emphasize to the coaches and the staff to get up and down the floor and go from there.”

Being able to return four starters is a blessing for any coach.

“You can have four players coming back where they aren’t very good, but we have four good starters and that’s a key thing to understand,” Elsier said. “Experience is one thing, but experience with talent is another, and that’s what we have. We have experience with talent, and I think that’s huge.”

Plum girls at a glance

Coach: Steve Elsier

Last year’s record: 14-7 (9-3 Section 2-5A)

Returning starters: Kennedie Montue (Sr., F); Jamie Seneca (Sr., G); Kai Johnson (Jr., G); Danica Susko (So., F)

Top newcomers: Camryn Rodgers (So., G); Megan Marston (Fr., G); Rayla Smith (Fr., G)

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at or via Twitter .


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