Shaler Area girls basketball gains confidence off McKeesport Summer League title

Saturday, July 27, 2019 | 12:01 AM

Facing the rigors of Class 6A basketball was a major challenge for the Shaler Area girls program last season.

While more experience won’t make a section featuring perennial stalwarts Norwin and North Allegheny less daunting, the Titans believe everything is moving in the right direction. In July, Shaler won the McKeesport Summer Basketball League.

The Titans beat Penn-Trafford in the semifinals and McKeesport in the finals.

“Honestly, I think we are trying to see how we are going to do this season,” Emily Cavacini, a rising senior guard, said. “We wanted to get our freshmen running and used to the high school game. It’s different going from middle school to high school basketball. We want to get ready to play 6A basketball teams.”

Penn-Trafford and McKeesport reached the WPIAL playoffs last season. Shaler lost its first five games of the season before rebounding to finish 7-14 overall and 5-9 in section. The Titans finished three games out of a playoff spot.

Shaler had only two seniors on last year’s team. Coach Cornelious Nesbit saw the team grow during the season.

“We looked at it as a process,” Nesbit said after the season. “As a young team, we are in a lot of close ball games where every situation matters. The best teaching tool is to be in those situations.”

Cavacini led Shaler in scoring last season by averaging 12.6 points and has been playing with AAU ball in the summer, along with the school team. She will be one of the key contributors returning, along with guard Meghan Lacey and forward Claire Grunden.

Lacey, who averaged 9.6 points and 7.2 rebounds, led the Titans in seven statistical categories last season.

Cavacini said the three incoming seniors want to do their best to help bring along the younger players.

“We tell them to do the little things,” Cavacini said. “Don’t worry if you miss a shot or make a mistake. Just play defense and rebound. Those are the little things you should always be doing. The freshmen will be a big help. We want to have strong team bonding and help bring them in.”

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