Senior 3-sport standout leads young Sewickley Academy girls basketball roster

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Sunday, December 3, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Libby Eannarino is a preeminent three-sport standout at Sewickley Academy.

She is a senior guard in basketball and a midfielder in lacrosse and soccer.

SA’s second-year hoops coach Jill Capozzi sees big things for the 5-foot-9 Eannarino on the basketball floor in 2023-24.

“Libby will play a huge leadership role for our team, not only as the lone senior but as our standout player,” Capozzi said. “She will need to have a huge year for our team to be successful, and with her competitive nature, she is up to the task.

“We are an extremely young team. We are returning two starters, one coming off her freshman year and the other being our only senior on the team. We will take one game at a time and look for ways to improve through gaining valuable playing experience. We will need everyone on this year’s team to play a key role.”

The Panthers’ two returning starters are Eannarino and Bella Yakich, a sophomore point guard.

“We’re a young team, bringing in a considerable freshman class,” Eannarino said, “but our underclassmen and new players bring a lot of skill and experience to the table that I think will prove invaluable as the season kicks into gear.

“I believe that our team is prepared to make a solid run in the playoffs.”

Other players on the squad expected to make an impact in 2023-34 include junior Skylar Nocito and freshmen Grace Jardini and Emma Eannarino, who will play alongside her older sister.

“Emma will see considerable playing time,” Capozzi said. “As the season progresses, we hope to see an emergence of disciplined decision-making and an overall development of team chemistry. This will take determination, but we are hopeful.”

The Panthers’ early season lineup is set with the Eannarino sisters, Yakich, Nocito and Jardini as the first five.

Libby Eannarino transferred from Upper St. Clair prior to the 2022-23 school year. In lacrosse, scored 65 goals last season, was credited with 20-plus assists and won more than 65 draw controls.

Eannarino netted her 100th career goal April 13 against Peters Township and finished the spring season with 138 career scores.

“We started the year with many new faces and coaches, including me, but right off the bat, we had a cohesive group,” Eannarino said. “Like any team, we faced some adversity, ranging from inclement weather to sudden injuries to few subs. But we had a tight-knit group, and we worked to overcome those problems. We made a run in the playoffs, and we’d like to make it even further next year.

“And I’m so proud scoring my 100th goal while wearing a Sewickley jersey and representing the academy.”

Capozzi is in her second year as Sewickley’s coach. The Panthers ended up 6-16 overall last year.

“I left teaching and coaching to raise my children,” Capozzi said, “and last year got back into it and am now enjoying being back in the head coach role.”

Capozzi has an extensive basketball background, including 13 years of head coaching experience with big-school programs at Norwin, Franklin Regional, her alma mater, and Shaler.

She played collegiately at Pitt-Johnstown and was part of the program’s Final Four team. She was a two-time Kodak All-American and an inductee into the school’s hall of fame.

The elder Eannarino was Sewickley’s leading scorer (17.5 ppg) as a starting guard on the girls basketball team last season. And in girls soccer, she netted eight goals to finish as the team’s second-leading scorer behind Katherine Varghese.

“So there was a little bit of rust to knock off getting back into soccer,” she said. “I hadn’t played since seventh grade, but it was such a great experience.”

Eannarino is a multi-year starter in all three of her favorite sports of basketball, lacrosse and soccer. She also participated in field hockey in her first two years of high school at USC.

Sewickley Academy has a long tradition of success in female athletics,” Eannarino said, “and I’d like to add on to that history in whatever way I can. One of the biggest appeals of Sewickley Academy is that it provides opportunities academically, socially and athletically that other schools don’t. Sewickley has allowed me to take more challenging courses, furthered my love for the arts and introduced me to a competitive athletic environment.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better high school experience than the one I’ve had at Sewickley. The friends I’ve made, the teachers I’ve had, the coaches I’ve played under and the parents I’ve met have all been so welcoming and supportive since Day 1.”

In girls basketball, the Panthers posted a 2-10 record in Section 1-2A last season. Shenango and Freedom tied for first, both at 11-1.

Other section opponents are Aliquippa, Rochester, South Side Beaver and New Brighton.

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