Promising Kiski Area girls team coming together

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Monday, November 29, 2021 | 7:38 PM


Kiski Area girls basketball coach Nick Dizon likened his team learning and growing to building a puzzle.

Once one piece is in place, it’s time to work on fitting in the next one.

It’s the theme for the season for a young Cavaliers team rife with freshmen and sophomores that are complemented by a couple seniors and a junior.

“When you find a puzzle piece, it doesn’t lose any value. It’s always there for you,” Dizon said. “Then when we move onto the next piece, we have to maintain what we have. If you learn something in practice today, you can’t forget about it when we try to add something new. It’s a term we’ve used to set your goals. We have certain things we want to accomplish this year, and that comes with building the puzzle as the season goes on.”

A major piece, as far as the lineup goes, returns in junior Lexi Colaianni.

Colaianni missed all of last season because of a hip injury but is back healthy and ready to assume a key role. She averaged 8.5 points as a freshman.

“She went through a lot of physical therapy throughout the spring, and she played in summer league and really worked her butt off to get back,” Dizon said. “It was a minor setback for her not being able to play last year, but she did what she needed to do and she’ll be good to go this coming season.”

Unfortunately for the Cavaliers they will be without another key player at least to start the season in senior center Dejah Burnett.

Burnett suffered a knee injury in May. Dizon said she’s working hard to rehab with the goal of playing this season. It is the third consecutive season the Cavaliers have had an injury to a starter with Colaianni last year and Hannah Potter injuring her wrist early in the season two years ago.

A pair of seniors — Karly Keller, who started last year, and Riley Hanan — will be veteran presences for the Cavaliers.

Dizon is excited about a quartet of sophomores who have shown plenty of promise. Abbie Johns and Cora Coleman started as freshmen last year, and Emma Peck and Zoe Holm saw time off the bench.

“They’re a pretty tenacious bunch,” Dizon said of the sophomores. “They took their lumps last year getting used to playing varsity, but we played better as the season went on. I’m happy with the individual progress they made from the time until the season ended until now.”

A pair of freshmen, Maddie Joyce and Rikiya Garcia, are expected to be in the mix to contribute.

Kiski Area is in Section 2-5A with Armstrong, Fox Chapel, Hampton, Plum, Indiana and Mars. The Cavaliers went winless in section play last year and are looking to change that this winter.

They’ll open the season at the Burrell Tip-Off Tournament, Dec. 10.

“From top to bottom, every team in our section is solid,” Dizon said. “Every game is against a quality, well-coached opponent. We’ve been trying to break through. We got close a couple times towards the end of the season.”

Kiski Area girls at a glance

Coach: Nick Dizon

Last year’s record: 3-17 (0-12 Section 2-5A)

Returning starters: Karly Keller (Sr., G/F), Abbie Johns (So., G/F), Cora Coleman (So., G/F)

Top newcomers: Lexi Colaianni (Jr., G), Maddie Joyce (Fr., G), Rikiya Garcia (Fr., G)

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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