Senior captains drive Seton LaSalle girls to successful season

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Friday, February 14, 2020 | 7:46 PM


Seton LaSalle’s girls basketball team has been driven by the force of three seniors in its lineup this season.

The leading scorers for the playoff-bound Rebels consist of seniors Chloe Lestitian (11.9), Sarah Merlina (11.4) and Vanessa Hudson (11.1), who average close to 35 points per game between them.

Lestitian stands 5-foot-7 and Merlina is 5-6. Both are guards. Hudson is a 5-8 forward and the team’s leading frontcourt player.

Lestitian, Merlina and Hudson serve as the team’s co-captains.

“Our three seniors have really stepped up this year,” said Jordan Giles, Seton LaSalle’s second-year coach. “They’ve had to handle a lot of change and have fought and stuck it out when most people wouldn’t, which shows a great deal about their character. They have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders and are embracing the challenge.

“They mean a tremendous amount to our program and are excellent leaders and examples to our underclassmen. I am really proud of what they are accomplishing and what is yet to come.”

Lestitian, who has a dazzling 5.3 GPA, is the team’s second-leading rebounder. She is a two-year starter, four-year letterwinner and second-year captain.

“Seton LaSalle has a great tradition in girls basketball, and it has been an honor to be a part of this program,” Lestitian said. “Our team has a tremendous work ethic, and I’m very proud of us.”

After an 0-2 start, the Rebels won 12 of their next 13 games and took a 14-7 record into the WPIAL Class 3A playoffs.

Said Lestitian: “My expectations for our team were very high this year. They were to work hard each day in practice to not only improve individually but as a team, compete for the section championship and make and compete in the WPIAL playoffs.”

Lestitian is senior class president, National Honor Society treasurer, participates in campus ministry and competes in forensics tournaments and competitive public speaking when not at practice.

She also plays volleyball in the fall and lacrosse in the spring and plans to major in biochemistry in college but still is evaluating her options at this time.

Merlina also is a two-year starter and has earned three varsity letters in basketball. She is involved in Junior Achievement and environmental science programs.

Merlina offered a basic reason for the Rebels’ success in 2019-20.

“We play as a team,” she said. “I think playing as a whole makes us better individually because we look for one another, and it helps us get better shots.”

Merlina has a 4.5 GPA and hopes to play hoops at the next level at either Chatham, Carlow or Geneva. She plans to study accounting, business or exercise science.

Hudson has a 4.1 GPA and is a second-year starter who battled through injuries early in her career. She plans to attend Duquesne and major in accounting.

“Our team this season is great,” Hudson said. “We are all great friends and work well together, and it’s because we are one of the only teams that has no drama whatsoever. We have some games that we lose it and don’t work together, but once we recognize we are doing that, we reel it in and refocus so that we can accomplish what we want.

“Last year, we were underestimated, and I think that has changed now.”

Hudson, who averages a double-double for the Rebels, is a member of the National Honor and National English Honor societies and is a school ambassador. She also is a two-year captain.

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