Thanks to boost in numbers, enthusiasm high for Leechburg girls

Thursday, November 24, 2022 | 11:01 AM

There’s a pleasant surprise involving Leechburg girls basketball this season.

More players.

After several seasons with a barely enough players to take the court, Leechburg has its roster in double digits.

The Blue Devils went 0-17 last season, 0-8 in section play, but that hasn’t hindered more girls coming out for the team.

“We have 13 this year. We can actually run a five-on-five practice this year,” fifth-year coach Andre Carter said. “We’re happy about that.”

Leechburg only lost one senior from last season: Maggie Hack.

Senior guard Christine Guo is back, along with Maddie Masterlerz, a captain as a junior last year.

Junior Olivia Vigna has been plagued by injuries the last two years, but the team is hoping for a full season from her.

The point guard will be Josalyn Collini, the only sophomore in the program.

An obvious plus with having more players is instructional ability.

“Whenever you have five or six at a practice, in theory, games are the only times you have five-on-fives,” Carter said. “Now, we can do a lot of repetitions in practice and learn there.”

Guo believes the program can make some progress this season.

“We definitely can,” Guo said. “We have injured people coming back, and we have some promising freshman. Every year we only had one of two per class, but now we have four freshmen coming in. Our coach has started a younger program and getting people into basketball.”

Leechburg opens the season against Nazareth Prep on Dec. 2 in the school’s annual tip-off tournament. Following that, the Blue Devils will take on long-time rival Springdale in a nonsection contest.

Leechburg has a very small section with only five teams included: Jeannette, Riverview, preseason favorite St. Joseph and Hillel Academy, a new WPIAL member hailing from the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh.

“Our section is wide open,” Carter said. “We only have five teams there, and Aquinas (Academy) has moved out. St. Joe’s is the team to beat. They came back with a lot of good players, and we have the opportunity to beat some teams and everything will fall into place.”

Added Guo: “We think our biggest rival is now St. Joe’s. Greensburg Central (Catholic) has moved out.”

Four of the five teams will make the playoffs, but there are only eight section games, allowing for a limited margin for error. Section 3A play will get underway Jan. 2. After four games, there will be a 10-day break between section contests.

Leechburg had a nice run of girls basketball success from 2016-19, making the playoffs all four seasons. Before that, the Blue Devils had two appearances in the previous 25 seasons.

At a glance

Coach: Andre Carter

Last season: 0-17 overall (0-8 in Section 3-A)

Returning starters: Christine Guo (Sr., guard), Maddie Masterlerz (Sr. C), Olivia Vigna (Jr., F), Josalyn Collini (So., G)


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