Sewickley Academy basketball teams set sights on playoff berths

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Sunday, January 28, 2024 | 11:01 AM


The Sewickley Academy boys and girls basketball teams are heading into the season’s stretch run. Here’s a look at both teams and where they stand:

Girls coming together

Sewickley Academy’s girls basketball team ended the first half of section play with a victory, defeating host Shenango, 45-41.

It gave the Panthers a 2-4 record in Section 1-2A and a 5-7 mark overall.

“Our team is starting to jell as the season goes on,” said Jill Cappozzi, Sewickley’s second-year coach. “With having only one senior (on the team) and not having a JV schedule, players are gaining valuable varsity experience that is propelling their development.”

Sewickley’s starting lineup consists of senior guard/forward Libby Eannarino, junior guard Skylar Nocito, sophomore Bella Yakich and two freshmen, guards Emma Eannarino and Grace Jardini. Yakich is a second-year starter.

Junior guard Josie Whitcraft also has started some games in the backcourt for the Panthers.

The Eannarino sisters are the team’s leading scorers. Libby Eannarino’s high game this season was 33 points; Emma hit for a season-high 19.

Libby Eannarino is a multi-year starter in basketball, lacrosse and soccer. She plays a midfield position in lacrosse and soccer.

She led the girls basketball team in scoring last season; she also participated in field hockey in her first two years of high school at USC.

Cappozzi has been pleasantly surprised by the performance of the two freshman starters, Emma Eannarino and Jardini.

“Emma is our second-leading scorer behind her sister, Libby,” Cappozzi said. “And Grace continues to show outstanding hustle and overall knack for the game.”

As of Jan. 22, the Sewickley girls were 5-9 overall and 2-5 in the section and were battling South Side Beaver (9-8, 3-5) for fourth place behind Aliquippa (14-1, 8-0), Rochester (10-5, 7-1) and Freedom (8-8, 6-2).

“We began the second half of section play (Jan. 22),” Cappozzi said. “We are a young team. The familiarity of having played these teams once will certainly help.

“With our team coming together, I believe this will give us the confidence we need to continue competing and having positive results.”

Boys eye playoff berth

The Sewickley boys basketball team was looking forward to the second half of its section season.

The Panthers had the WPIAL playoffs on their minds.

“We are excited and hope to continue to improve every day in practice,” first-year coach Jim Dudas said, “and hope that equates to additional wins as we move forward. We are striving to compete for a playoff spot.”

The Panthers have been propelled to a winning record by their frontcourt this season.

Sophomore forward Lucas Grimsley and junior forward Nolan Donnelly continue to average in double figures with Donnelly and sophomore forward Amari Spencer leading the team in rebounding.

“Caiden Battles and Alex Wang have done an excellent job running the team (during games),” Dudas said. “And we’ve had significant contributions off the bench from Garang Garang, True Robinson and Jordan Smith.”

Wang is a senior guard and Battles is a sophomore guard. Garang and Robinson are freshman forwards while Smith is a senior guard.

Sewickley defeated South Side, 67-55, on Jan. 22 to improve to 2-3 in Section 1-2A and 9-5 on the year.

Grimsley and Donnelly connected for 23 and 22 points, respectively, against the Rams. Robinson added 10.

“We are performing well so far this season,” Grimsley said. “We are competing well in games and competing hard in practice, trying to improve each week.

“We expect to improve and compete hard when we step on the court no matter if it’s a game or practice.”

Aliquippa (10-3, 5-0) stood in first place at the end of the first half of section play, followed by Northgate (10-3, 4-1), Shenango (9-6, 3-2), Sewickley Academy, South Side (6-9, 1-4) and Laurel (2-12, 0-5).

The Panthers notched their first section win Jan. 9 with a 70-34 victory at Laurel, then lost a 51-48 section decision in overtime three days later at home against Shenango.

“We had a solid victory over Laurel and a heartbreaking loss to Shenango in overtime,” Dudas said.

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