Riverview girls basketball team hopes to build off memorable season

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Friday, December 4, 2020 | 5:26 PM


Last season was one to remember for the Riverview girls basketball team.

With a group of six seniors leading the way, the Raiders compiled a 15-10 overall record with several key section victories down the stretch in the regular season.

A high-pressure, emotional win over Burgettstown followed in the first round of the WPIAL Class 2A playoffs before the team fell to No. 2 seed and eventual WPIAL champion Bishop Canevin in the quarterfinals. Riverview played in the PIAA tournament for the first time since 2014.

Veteran coach Keith Stitt said graduation losses have created several opportunities for the returnees and newcomers on the youthful 10-player roster. The group has progressed in the preseason.

“The girls are starting to see where they may figure in, and there certainly still is good competition,” Stitt said. “They all will play to some degree. How much will depend on how they do each day.”

Stitt said he and his coaches expected the lower-than-usual numbers after six seniors graduated.

The team will be counting on the experience of three-year senior letterwinner Elena Wyrick, a guard who Stitt praises for her defense.

“Elena has played a lot of basketball for us the past three years and has experienced a lot,” said Stitt.

“She has, without a doubt, embraced the role of a team leader now as a senior. I talked with her over the summer and let her know she would be one of our captains. She had those leadership qualities in addition to being a pretty good player. We expect a lot out of her this year.”

Wyrick is the top scorer among the returnees at 2.7 points per game. She suffered a torn posterior cruciate ligament in her right knee during a victory over Jeannette right before Christmas and missed seven games.

“I am really impressed with how everyone is doing,” a now-healthy Wyrick said.

“All of the younger kids from last year are really stepping up. We’ve been focusing on working together as a team overall, not just on our basketball skills. We’ve been really encouraging each other.”

Senior 5-foot-11 forward Tenaeja Sheffey and junior guard Maddie Deem also return after playing significant roles off the bench last season. Sheffey averaged 2.3 points and 3.2 rebounds, and Deem contributed 2.2 points.

Stitt said the three freshmen — guards Lola Abraham and Georgia Tsambis and forward Callie Harden — will contribute.

He also hopes a returning group of four sophomores — forwards Ava Blickenderfer and Brionna Long, guard/forward Macy Orbin and guard Hazel Polesiak – will be able to take that next step.

Orbin pulled down 3.2 rebounds during 10 games last winter.

Stitt said he will be able to get a good look at the team in a scrimmage at Class 5A Franklin Regional on Tuesday.

“It will be a good test to see where we’re at and see what we need to work on,” he said. “There aren’t any wins and losses in a scrimmage. We might be in over our head a little bit, but I am OK with that.”

Riverview is scheduled to begin the season Friday and Saturday at the Carlynton tournament with the Golden Cougars, New Brighton and Seton LaSalle.

Several December games, including nonsection matchups with Apollo-Ridge and Springdale, were canceled. Riverview is not slated to open section play until January.

“We push ourselves hard in practice every day because we don’t know what the next day will bring,” Deem said. “We’re taking nothing for granted. We’re trying to be as careful as we can while just working hard.”

Riverview dropped down to Class 1A in the offseason and will match up with Aquinas Academy, Clairton, Leechburg, Propel Andrew Street and St. Joseph in Section 3.

Clairton returns as the defending section champion. The Bears, who tied Greensburg Central Catholic for first with 9-1 records, advanced to the WPIAL semifinals and qualified for the state playoffs.

“We don’t know much about the section yet, but I know that we’ve been doing so good in instilling the values we need so we’ll be ready for any competition, for sure,” Sheffey said.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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