Senior Scala helps accelerate maturing process for Greensburg Central Catholic girls basketball

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Wednesday, January 29, 2020 | 7:26 PM


As one of only three seniors on the Greensburg Central Catholic girls basketball team, Gia Scala was well aware of the Centurions’ inexperience coming into the season.

Scala missed six weeks — three games — but her return to the backcourt has accelerated the team’s maturing process.

She likes the results so far.

“I feel like we have grown a lot for such a young team,” Scala said. “We definitely have improved since the beginning of the season.”

GCC went from an unranked, nondescript group to the No. 4 team in Class A. More importantly, the Centurions (12-5, 8-0) have secured their 20th consecutive WPIAL playoff trip and are nearing a section title.

“This is not a selfish group,” coach Sam Salih said. “I haven’t seen complacency. We have been through a lot. We’ve seen adversity and triumph.”

With five wins in their last seven games — their losses are to Class 5A Franklin Regional, 3A Mohawk (16-1), 2A No. 1 Serra Catholic and 2A Riverview — the Centurions have taken command in Section 3 with an 8-0 mark.

The team is allowing 30.4 points in section games.

Serra Catholic handled GCC in the Shootout at Seton Hill, 56-30. The Eagles jumped out to a 21-3 lead.

“We needed that,” Salih said. “It’s a wake-up call. You need to be ready to play, no matter when the game is.”

With that being said, GCC has had a grind of a schedule, as in six games in 10 days and 13 games in a month.

“I coached in college, and we never played that many games,” said Salih, a former La Roche women’s assistant. “That’s a lot. But the girls are working hard.”

The roster makeup is simple: You’re either a sophomore or a senior. There are nine of the former and three of the latter.

Senior and top returning scorer Melina Maietta began the season with the Centurions but was dismissed from the team after two games.

That left the senior leadership in the hands of Scala, Sam Nemeth — a converted soccer player — and Teresa Kondas.

Scala consistently has been a double-digit scorer for the Centurions and has made the team gradually better as she has adjusted to the pace of the game and tried to fill the scoring void left by Maietta.

“She had an ankle injury and battled the flu, so we’re trying to get her to (100%),” Salih said. “Overall, we have grown a lot as a group: leaps and bounds.”

Salih played a short rotation last season but has stretched the bench out of necessity and for merit.

Sophomore Emma Riley has been a pleasant surprise, Salih said, and 5-foot-11 sophomore forward Laura Kondas is giving the team valuable minutes on the low block.

“Emma is playing solid and still growing,” Salih said. “Kondas has been more physical, and (sophomore) Madi Pisula has been playing well defensively.”

Two other sophomores — Natalie Ward and Megan Zambruno, who has a broken finger — also have been contributing.

There has been more continuity and less indifference, despite the unique roster breakdown.

“We’ve became more close off the court, which has benefited us on the court,” Scala said. “We’ve gotten comfortable with each other and are picking up how we can put our individual strengths together.”

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

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