Thomas Jefferson, Baldwin, Brentwood girls basketball teams have playoff ambitions
Sunday, December 13, 2020 | 8:40 PM
Here’s a look at the high school girls basketball teams for the South Hills Record coverage area:
The Thomas Jefferson girls won’t soon forget the wild ride that was the 2019-20 season.
The Jaguars started out 7-1, won three and lost three midseason games, and wrapped it up with five consecutive victories down the season’s home stretch.
TJ advanced to the WPIAL Class 5A semifinal round and PIAA quarterfinals before things were shut down abruptly by the coronavirus pandemic that swept across the country.
The TJ girls ended up 20-7 overall after going 2-1 in the WPIAL playoffs and 2-0 in the state tournament. The Jaguars were WPIAL finalists and PIAA semifinalists in 2018-19, finishing with a 22-8 record.
“I believe our team has the heart and drive that our teams have had the last two seasons,” TJ coach Lisa Fairman said. “We have several talented girls from all grade levels that have been battling for starting positions.”
Six seniors graduated from last year’s playoff squad, including 1,000-point scorer Alyssa DeAngelo, now a freshman guard/forward at Fairmont State.
Returning starters this year include 5-foot-8 senior G/F Maddy Trainer and two high-energy junior guards, 5-5 Graci Fairman and 5-3 Lydia Zoglmann.
They are joined by seniors Jera Esper at forward, Lexi Dadig at guard and Cindy Obiero at forward, junior guard Katrina Simkiw and sophomores Delaney Concannon (G/F), Julia Berberich (G) and Abby Atkinson (G) as players hoping to make an impact. G/F Gabby Breisinger, G/F Laekyn Flinn and G Raygen Hintemeyer are top freshmen.
“Gabby can run the 4 or 5 position, Laekyn the 3 or 4 and Raygen the 1 or 2,” Fairman said. “Cindy Obiero joined the team last year and has worked very hard. She will be able to help us with our inside game.”
Baldwin has the look, supported by a fierce work ethic from its players, of a potential powerhouse team at the WPIAL Class 6A level.
First-year coach Jamal Woodson welcomed eight seniors with two or three years of varsity experience to his squad.
And with five talented juniors and several sophomores and freshmen in the mix, Woodson’s biggest early season hurdle may be finding playing time for the players.
“My expectations are very high,” Woodson said. “We have an experienced team that has been playing together since grade school.
“Some people think we are crazy for having a 16-player varsity roster. I think we are blessed.”
The Highlanders are led by a strong senior class consisting of Meghan Dryburgh, Lexi Bernotas, Kayla Radomsky and Cassie Pantelis in the frontcourt, with Anna Lucarelli, Abby Marzini and Sydney Carr in the backcourt, plus an influx of junior guards including Morgan Altavilla, Emiley Hillgartner, Leyna Laurent and Alyvia Cox. Lucarelli recently committed to West Liberty.
Dryburgh, who was lauded as a Class 6A preseason player to watch by Trib HSSN, has an offer from Millersville. Dryburgh is a 5-foot-10 center/forward who averaged 11 points per game last season.
Two other players hoping to make an impact for the Highlanders are senior Taylor Walker and junior Heidi Johnston.
Baldwin finished with a 13-11 record in 2019-20 and shocked Central Dauphin, 42-35, in the first round of the PIAA tournament. Central Dauphin won the District 3 title with a 26-1 record and was ranked No. 1 in the state by Trib HSSN.
The Brentwood girls missed the WPIAL basketball playoffs last year for the first time since 2012-13.
The Spartans were a young team with just one senior and two juniors on the varsity roster.
Veteran coach Rachel Thomas worked with four sophomores and five freshmen in a rebuilding 2019-20 season.
Paige Miller and Taylor Davis, both returning senior starters, and junior guard Maura Daly, another returning starter who was named the team’s most outstanding player in 2019-20, are joined in the lineup by junior guard Bella Grimm and freshman guard Mallory Daly.
Miller is a 6-foot senior forward; Davis is a 5-4 senior guard.
Sophomore guards Jenna Yee and Brianna Folino and freshman forward Mia March have stepped up into key reserve roles for the Spartans.
“I expect out team to be very competitive in our new section,” Thomas said. “We have a solid core of returning starters mixed with additional talent from last year along with the freshmen. Mia March and Mallory Daly have both had a great preseason. They both will be able to contribute a lot to our team.”
Tags: Baldwin, Brentwood, Thomas Jefferson
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