Talented senior class helped guide Penn Hills girls basketball to PIAA tournament

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Thursday, March 21, 2019 | 10:59 PM


After an early exit in the WPIAL playoffs last season, the Penn Hills girls basketball program had its sights on a championship run with a talented, veteran team.

The Indians (17-8, 11-3) were almost able to accomplish their goal of competing for a WPIAL Class 5A championship. However, they fell short of making it to the championship after a loss to Chartiers Valley, 45-37, in the semifinals Feb. 27.

They had a chance to regroup to make a run for a PIAA Class 5A title. However, Penn Hills lost to Oakland Catholic, 39-27, in the PIAA second round March 13.

“I thought we had a pretty good season,” coach Robert Cash said. “Even though we finished second in our section, we won a lot of basketball games. We wanted to win the championship, but we look back at it, we won 17 games and you can’t be upset about that.”

This year, the Indians were led by a pair of seniors — guard Adia Brisker and forward Tayonna Robertson. Both received first-team all-section honors.

Brisker, a Niagara commit, averaged 11.3 points to lead the Indians. Robertson, a Longwood commit, averaged 9.1 points.

In the Indians’ loss to Oakland Catholic in the state playoffs, Robertson led Penn Hills with 12 points.

Brisker scored 18 to lead the Indians to a 42-25 win over Hollidaysburg in the first round of the PIAA Class 5A playoffs March 9. The Indians earned a semifinal matchup with Chartiers Valley in the WPIAL playoffs after defeating Franklin Regional, 55-43, in the quarterfinals Feb. 23. Brisker and Robertson combined for 33 points in the win. Brisker scored a game-high 20 points, while Robertson netted 13 points.

Penn Hills bounced back after dropping its first two games of the season by winning 11 of their next 12. The Indians won one of those games during the stretch at the buzzer on a Brisker basket to top Oakland Catholic, 32-31, on the road Jan. 10.

The Indians finished the regular season with a 4-3 record, including a 57-56 loss to Latrobe on Jan. 24.

Cash prides himself on coaching a strong, defensive basketball team. This year was no exception as the Indians held teams to 37.6 points per game, while the Indians averaged 49.4.

Along with the loss of Brisker and Robertson, Cash will look to replace the contributions made by senior guards Ariana Dunson and Diamond-Jay Whittington. Dunson was a second-team all-section selection, while Whittington received honorable mention.

The Indians will return three sophomore guards — A’Lysa Sledge, Jasmyn Golden, Jayla Golden — who received honorable mention all-section honors.

Penn Hills also will return junior center Niya Moore. Cash was pleased to see her continued development and contributions this season. Sophomore guard Amoni Blackwell also will return. “I think for us things don’t really change. We’ll come into the year looking to compete for a WPIAL championship even though we are losing a great senior class that have done a lot of good things for the program,” Cash said.

“We got some younger kids that are coming up that will be able to carry the torch.”

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