Southmoreland girls basketball team has plenty of experience, talent to continue recent run of success

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Sunday, December 5, 2021 | 4:21 PM


With 59 wins, a WPIAL runner-up, two WPIAL semifinal trips and a run to the PIAA second round highlighting a three-year run, the Southmoreland girls basketball team has big plans this winter for Year 4.

And a big rotation to match.

Five starters return from a 16-5 team that reached the WPIAL 4A semis before losing to Quaker Valley, 60-50.

The Scotties are long and lean, battled-tested and skilled as they try to keep the program affixed among the contenders in 4A.

Among the starters back are 5-foot-11 forward Gracie Spadaro and 5-7 junior point guard Olivia Cernuto, outstanding players on their own but a force at times as a tandem.

Cernuto averaged 12 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 5.3 steals per game, Spadaro 13 points and seven rebounds.

“We know we have athleticism and experience,” Cernuto said. “Now we have to put in the work and get our minds right.”

Spadaro committed to play at IUP. Cernuto, a standout in soccer and track and field, has a basketball offer from IUP and soccer interest from St. Francis (Pa.).

“We need to bring energy and stay healthy,” said Spadaro, a former Trib Westmoreland player ofthe year. “You can’t let nerves get to you, and you have to be comfortable playing in big games with a lot of fans.”

Also returning are 6-1 junior forward Maddie Moore, 6-foot senior swing-guard Delaynie Morvosh, and senior guard Elle Pawlikowsky.

The Scotties will try to cut down the nets for a third straight year with another section title under second-year coach Amber Cernuto.

“Hopefully, the girls will put the hard work in and work together like they have in the past,” Amber Cernuto said. “We can go far, but we have to do the little things: put the ball in the hoop and play big defense. We want to keep expanding on what we did last year.”

Coach Cernuto said Spadaro and Olivia Cernuto will play important roles on both ends of the floor.

“Gracie needs to be a leader on offense and defense,” she said. “Liv has to take care of the ball, guide the offense and play good defense.”

Morvosh gives the team a perimeter shooter with big-game experience. Defensive sparkplug Pawilkowsky will assist Cernuto in the backcourt, and Moore will bring double-double potential to the post.

A staple in the program the last few years has been defense, and the emphasis won’t change. The Scotties have been one of the top points-allowed teams, allowing just 33.4 points last season.

“The plan is for us to be aggressive on the defensive end,” Amber Cernuto said. “We don’t plan to run too much zone. We want to get out and run.”

Junior Reagan Carson (5-7) and sophomores Kaylee Doppleheuer (5-10) and Bea Pawlikowsky also figure into the rotation.

“We have come out slow in the past,” Olivia Cernuto said. “We need to be able to start off faster to get us going.”

The nonsection schedule has some bite with Thomas Jefferson, Greensburg Salem, McKeesport, Penn-Trafford, and Upper St. Clair among the matchups.

Southmoreland girls at a glance

Coach: Amber Cernuto

Last year’s record: 16-5 (11-1 Section 3-4A)

Returning starters: Olivia Cernuto (Jr., PG), Maddie Moore (Jr., F), Delaynie Morvosh (Sr., G), Elle Pawlikowsky (Sr., G), Gracie Spadaro (Sr., F)

Top newcomers: Reagan Carson (Jr., G), Kaylee Doppleheuer (So., F), Bea Pawlikowsky (So., G)

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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