Trib HSSN 2020-21 WPIAL Class 5A girls basketball preseason breakdown
Sunday, December 6, 2020 | 7:34 PM
Getting to the WPIAL girls basketball finals will take even more dedication and focus than ever this season.
Teams will have to navigate an invisible opponent in covid-19 that could test them more than a section rival.
But a reward of a WPIAL championship will drive girls basketball teams across Western Pennsylvania, much like it did for last year’s victors — North Allegheny (Class 6A), Chartiers Valley (5A), North Catholic (4A), Mohawk (3A), Bishop Canevin (2A) and Rochester (A).
Here is a rundown of players to watch, team rankings and other notable facts for Class 5A girls basketball. Check out a breakdown of each class this week on the TribLive High School Sports Network. Click here to see Class 6A.
WPIAL Class 5A
Preseason Player of the Year
5-10, junior, guard
16.7 ppg in 2019-20
Players to watch
5-10, Jr., G, 19.2 ppg
5-11, Sr., F, 22.1 ppg
5-11, Jr., F, 12.7 ppg
6-0, Sr., F, 13.7 ppg
5-9, Jr., PG, 21.5 ppg
Preseason Top 5
1. Chartiers Valley (27-0 last season)
Chartiers Valley remains the team to beat in Class 5A as it rides a 57-game winning streak into the 2020-21 season. The Colts have won the past two WPIAL titles and also won the 2018-19 PIAA championship. They had their state playoff run halted by the coronavirus pandemic last winter. CV is led by junior all-state guard Aislin Malcolm (16.7 ppg) and all-section forward Perri Page (12.7 ppg). Malcolm, the 2019-20 Trib HSSN Player of the Year, committed to Pitt last week. Page also is a Division I prospect. Twin junior guards Hallie Cowan (second-team all-section) and Helen Cowan (honorable mention) also return as CV chases the state record for consecutive victories (62, Lancaster Catholic 2019).
2. Trinity (21-5)
Fresh of a WPIAL finals appearance and trip to the PIAA quarterfinals before the season was halted, the Hillers again have high expectations. Senior forward Courtney Dahlquist was a first-team all-section pick, and junior guard Alyssa Clutter (second team) and senior guard Kaylin Venick (honorable mention) also earned postseason honors. Also back is Kaylin’s twin sister Emily Venick, a senior guard for Trinity, which was second to CV in Section 1 last year but has moved to Section 3 this season. The Hillers graduated all-section guard/forward Riley DeRubbo (Fordham).
3. Moon (17-7)
The Tigers reached the WPIAL quarterfinals last season behind a tandem of Division I prospects — junior point guard Reilly Sunday and junior guard/forward Emma Theodorsson. Sunday (first team) and Theodorsson (second team) were all-section selections, along with senior forward Cassie Depner (honorable mention). Sunday averaged 20 points as a freshman and 21.5 last year. The Tigers are led by Meghan Mastroianni, who was hired in the offseason. She was the team’s interim head coach late last season after Jody Powell was fired.
4. Woodland Hills (20-6)
A WPIAL semifinalist a year ago, Woodland Hills again should contend. The Wolverines will be led by 6-0 senior forward Peyton Pinkney (13.7 ppg), a first-team all-section selection and Eastern Michigan recruit. Junior guards Jazmine Dunn (second team) and Jasmyn Fisher and sophomore guard Kayla Walters (honorable mention) also return.
5. Thomas Jefferson (20-7)
The Jaguars lost seven times last season, and three of those came against No. 1-ranked Chartiers Valley, including a loss in the WPIAL semifinals. TJ rebounded to reach the PIAA quarterfinals, where a rematch with CV was halted by the pandemic. Junior guard Graci Fairman returns for Thomas Jefferson, which will miss all-section guard Alyssa DeAngelo (16 ppg) and forward Delaney Ranallo.
• Fox Chapel, Indiana, Connellsville, Ringgold, Greensburg Salem and McKeesport have joined Class 5A, which has four sections with 27 teams. Montour dropped down to Class 4A, and Penn-Trafford moved up to 6A.
• Coach Dana Petruska returns for her 25th season on the bench at Mars, where she has amassed a record of 362-222. She returns senior all-section guard Alek Johnson (11.0 ppg).
• Latrobe returns five starters from a team that finished 12-10, including junior 6-2 forward Anna Rafferty (12.6 ppg, 10 rpg), a Division I prospect, senior guard Rachel Ridilla (10.2 ppg) and sophomore forward Emma Blair (9.3 ppg, 10 rpg).
• Sophomore guards Alexa Washington and Rachel Haver (12.9 ppg) were each first-team all-section selections in helping Oakland Catholic finish 11-3 in Section 3 last year.
• Fox Chapel will look to contend in Section 2 behind junior all-section forward Ellie Schwartzmann (12.5 ppg, 7 rpg) and junior guards Domenica Delaney (12 ppg) and Marissa Ritter.
• Gateway, which won Section 2 last season at 10-2, returns juinor guard Lexi Margolis (10.3 ppg) and senior forward Dynasty Shegog (9.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg).
• Indiana is making the jump from Class 4A to 5A and will rely on junior all-section guard Hope Cook (17.0 ppg).
• Greensburg Salem was bumped up from Class 4A this season and will rely on four returning starters, including junior guard Abby Mankins, who led the team in scoring (19.5 ppg.), rebounding (7.0 rpg), assists (5.0 apg) and steals (4.0 spg).
• Penn Hills, which reached the PIAA playoffs last season, returns four starters, including senior first-team all-section guard Amoni Blackwell. The Indians will miss senior A’Lysa Sledge, a UMass Lowell commit who is recovering from a torn ACL.
Section 1: Chartiers Valley, Lincoln Park, Moon, Oakland Catholic, South Fayette, West Allegheny
Section 2: Armstrong, Fox Chapel, Hampton, Indiana, Kiski Area, Mars, Plum
Section 3: Albert Gallatin, Connellsville, Laurel Highlands, Ringgold, Thomas Jefferson, Trinity, Uniontown
Section 4: Franklin Regional, Gateway, Greensburg Salem, Latrobe, McKeesport, Penn Hills, Woodland Hills
Bill Hartlep is the sports editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @TribHSInsider.
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