Seasoned roster has Franklin Regional girls in position to succeed

Wednesday, November 16, 2022 | 6:43 PM

The girls basketball roster at Franklin Regional last year had a mix of guards and forwards, varying heights and positions.

What it didn’t have was a senior. Not one.

So coach Bernie Pucka is hoping a young group comes back battle-tested and tempered when practice tips off Friday.

“It elevates our expectations,” Pucka said. “We have some girls back. We have a change in section teams. The section is up for grabs. I want our girls to compete every night.”

Patience could be the intangible key to the Panthers bettering a 6-15 mark (2-10 in section).

“We have T-shirts that say, ‘One breath at a time, one play at a time, one quarter at a time, one half at a time, one game at a time,” Pucka said.

A defense-first coach, Pucka has seven girls back who started at some point last winter.

“We played a ton in the summer,” Pucka said. “We went to team camps and played in leagues at McKeesport and Hempfield Rec. I feel like the girls are getting a better grasp on what we want to do.”

A veteran backcourt will feature seniors Sarah Penrod (8.7 ppg), Brooke Schirmer and Avery Musto, along with junior Angelina Brush.

The frontcourt shows promise with sophomore 6-footer Toryn Fulton back and junior Gabrielle Keough also squaring up in the paint.

Add energetic junior forward Sophia Yaniga to the mix, as well.

Scoring could be balanced as the Panthers look to build from the defensive end.

“We’re hoping to score by committee,” Pucka said. “It would be great to get three in doubles (figures) every game. Five would be even better.”

Other contributors could be juniors Olivia Orndoff and Keira Sadoski and senior Sarah Holt.

Plum, Kiski Area and Indiana will be new section opponents for the Panthers. Pucka teaches at Plum, his alma mater.

The Panthers open the season Dec. 2 at the Laurel Highlands tournament. Their nonsection schedule is barbed wire. It includes Blackhawk, Mars, Belle Vernon, Greensburg Salem and Penn-Trafford.

“It’s a grind night in and night out,” Pucka said. “We were 12 points from the playoffs last year. We lost by six and five to Gateway, and one in overtime to Greensburg Salem. I want the girls to understand that.”

At a glance

Coach: Bernie Pucka

Last year’s record: 6-15 (2-10 Section 4-5A)

Returning starters: Angelina Brush (Jr., G), Toryn Fulton (So., F), Avery Musto (Sr., G), Sarah Penrod (Sr., G), Brooke Schirmer (Sr., G), Sophia Yaniga (Sr., F)

Top newcomers: Sara Holt (Sr., G), Gabrielle Keough (Jr. F), Olivia Orndoff (So., F), Keira Sadoski (Jr. G)

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .


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