St. Joseph girls basketball team on the upswing

Sunday, December 5, 2021 | 5:22 PM

A good word to describe the St. Joseph girls basketball team is potential.

The Spartans are a youthful group with only one senior, a bevy of sophomores and a freshman, but coach Dennis Jones feels they have the skill and size to be an intriguing team this winter.

“We’re extremely young, but I feel like we have a very good chance to do well in the section and maybe compete for a section title,” Jones said.

The lone senior is Trinity Lockwood-Morris, the team’s point guard. She’ll be flanked by four sophomores in the starting lineup. Julie Spinelli, a third-team Valley News Dispatch All-Star as a freshman, is starting for the second consecutive year. Emma Swierczewski started half the games last season. Anna Kreinbrook and Maggie Bernat will also slot into the lineup. Kreinbrook is 6-foot-2, and Jones said she has plenty of upside.

A pair of sophomores, Amelia Wygonick and Montana Geibel, as well as freshman Gia Richter will play big roles off the bench.

Jones said Lockwood-Morris is the perfect leader to help the younger players along.

“She’s our team captain and motivator,” Jones said. “She really works well with the younger kids.”

The Spartans will aim to deploy a fast-paced attack, but they’ll also look to use their height to their advantage. Along with Kreinbrook at 6-2, several other players are 6-foot or taller.

“We’ll be the tallest team on the court in most of the games we play,” Jones said. “Even our guards are 5-9, 5-10, 5-11. Trinity is our shortest starter, and she’s 5-7. It’ll be interesting to see how we can use that size.”

St. Joseph will host its annual tip-off tournament Friday and Saturday. The Spartans open with Union and play Winchester Thurston on Saturday.

Jones scheduled an ambitious nonconference slate with games against Class 6A Shaler, Class 5A Lincoln Park, Class 4A Highlands and Freeport, as well as perennial Class A contender Bishop Canevin and Avella, which St. Joseph lost to in the first round of the Class A playoffs last season.

The schedule was by design to get St. Joseph prepared for Section 3-A play against Clairton, Aquinas Academy, Riverview, Leechburg and Propel Andrew Street. The Spartans finished third in the section last season.

“We just wanted to play better competition,” Jones said of the nonconference schedule. “You have the choice when making your schedule where you can make it so you go 20-2 and aren’t tested or go like 14-8 and push yourself. I wanted to push them, so that when the playoffs come and we’re playing tough teams, we’re prepared for it. In the summer, we played in the Highlands league against all 6A, 5A, and 4A teams. I didn’t give them a break then, and we aren’t getting one now.”

St. Joseph girls at a glance

Coach: Dennis Jones

Last year’s record: 6-15 (5-3 Section 3-A)

Returning starters: Trinity Lockwood-Morris (Sr., G), Julie Spinelli (So., G/F), Emma Swierczewski (So., G/F)

Top newcomers: Gia Richter (Fr., G/F)

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer


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