Quaker Valley girls basketball, a program on the rise, sets championship goals

Sunday, December 6, 2020 | 10:16 AM

The Quaker Valley girls basketball team got a nice taste of success last season, and now it’s ready for more.

After recording an overall record of 17-7 and earning a blowout first-round victory over No. 9 West Mifflin, the Quakers got a shot at No. 1 seed North Catholic.

While some teams may have shied away from the Trojanettes, who had won the past two WPIAL titles at the time, coach Tom Demko said his girls were fired up for the opportunity to test themselves.

“The girls were up for the challenge just to kind of see where we are against a top team like North Catholic,” Demko said. “Holding them to 47 points and kind of being in the game for a while was something that they looked on well after that game. They were able to think, ‘Wow, we’re close.’”

A game like that gave the Quakers the confidence they needed, and with three starters returning from last season, including the core group of seniors Corinne Washington, Bailey Garbee and Claire Kuzma, the Quakers have just one goal.

“The expectations are just out of control this season,” Demko said. “All these girls are expecting huge things this year. This is the first year we have a huge senior class. Five strong seniors, three returning starters, and each of those three have fully committed to playing at the next level. So, they are signed on with their schools, and the big goal is just to try and hang a banner.”

Since they were younger, Washington, Garbee, and Kuzma have played major roles in the rise of the Quaker Valley girls basketball program.

When they were freshmen in 2017-18, the Quakers went 9-13 overall and finished fifth in section play. As sophomores, they helped forge the program’s first winning record since 2014-15 and punched their ticket to the WPIAL quarterfinals with a first-round upset win over Freeport.

Last year was another successful season, and now the team is looking to take it one step further in 2020. In order to do so, Demko feels like they need to prove themselves even more against the top teams in their section like Blackhawk and Central Valley, who tied for the section title last season.

“It’s a really tough section, and we have some real quality teams there,” Demko said. “I think we stayed competitive in the last couple of years with those teams, but to take that next step, we have to beat a Blackhawk because that team has obviously been at the top for quite a while. It’s going to take something like that to get to the next level.”

Along with Garbee, Washington and Kuzma, the Quakers are going to be much deeper this season.

Over the past few years, Demko said he’s been getting some of the younger players a lot more action so that they can build up their confidence and experience level for the future.

Seniors Lily Johns and Allison Wittie, juniors Lauren Blackmer and Amelia Herrmann and sophomore Nora Johns could all play key roles this season.

“I think we can really go 10 or 11 deep, no problem at all,” Demko said. “The girls are ready, we’re deeper, and there are a lot of girls that are right there ready to take the next step as well.”

The Quakers have experience and talent, and with a class of five seniors who are all captains, the Quakers have leadership as well, which will be crucial this season.

“I think that’s a huge advantage for us, to be able to have that leadership and kinda keep the girls focused on the main goal, which is to win a championship,” Demko said. “That’s our goal, nothing short of that.”

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


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