Trib HSSN 2021-22 WPIAL Class 2A girls basketball preseason breakdown

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Wednesday, December 8, 2021 | 5:02 PM


Neshannock girls basketball coach Luann Grybowski says her team has “unfinished business.”

The Lancers won Section 1 and WPIAL championships last season but finished runner-up in the PIAA tournament after losing to Mount Carmel in the Class 2A finals.

The veteran coach with 685 career wins returns the entire starting lineup and key reserves to make another run at state gold, but there are a few contenders who hope to dethrone the Lancers.

Here is a rundown of players to watch, top five teams and other notables in WPIAL 2A girls basketball this season.

Preseason player of the year

Mairan Haggerty

Neshannock

5-11, Jr., guard

17.5 ppg last season

Players to watch

Bailey Kuhns

Greensburg Central Catholic

6-0, Sr., F, 18.6 ppg

Nadia Moore

Winchester Thurston

5-10, Jr., G, 18.8 ppg

Neleh Nogay

Neshannock

5-6, Sr., G, 15.3 ppg

Chloe Pordash

Serra Catholic

5-9, Sr., G, 13.0 ppg

Alicia Young

Sto-Rox

5-11, Sr., G, 19.9 ppg

Preseason Top 5

1. Neshannock (19-3 last season)

A pair of all-state players return for the defending WPIAL Class 2A champion Lancers. Junior guard Mairan Haggerty was named first-team all-state after averaging 17.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists, and senior guard Neleh Nogay was second-team all-state after averaging 15.3 points, 7.0 assists, 7.2 steals and 6.0 rebounds per game. Also back are guards Addi Watts and Aaralyn Nogay and forwards Megan Pallerino and Hunter Newman.

2. Winchester Thurston (12-4)

The Bears won the Section 4 title at 7-0 last season and return two of Class 2A’s top scorers in senior guard Maya Roberts (16.8 ppg) and junior guard Nadia Moore (18.8 ppg). Both are two-time all-section selections who helped Winchester Thurston reach the WPIAL semifinals. The Bears will miss all-section forward Nya Nicholson, who graduated after averaging nearly 14 ppg.

3. OLSH (13-6)

Three starters return for the Chargers, who reached the WPIAL quarterfinals last season and tied Neshannock for the Section 1 title. Leading the way will be senior all-section guard/forward Emily Schuck (10.2 ppg), a three-year starter, along with guard Kyleigh Nagy and forward Katie Hoff. The experienced team has seven seniors and eight juniors.

4. Serra Catholic (16-1)

Former South Fayette head coach Matt Bacco takes over coaching duties at his alma mater for longtime coach Bill Cleary, who retired with more than 650 wins in 34 years leading the Eagles. The Section 2 champions, however, return just one starter — senior all-section guard Chloe Pordash — from a team that was undefeated until falling to Neshannock in the WPIAL final. Sophomore guard Cate Clark and sophomore guard/forward Bri Battles are expected to be key contributors.

5. Greensburg Central Catholic (9-5)

New head coach Chris Skatell takes over a Greensburg Central Catholic team that returns all five starters, including senior all-section forward Bailey Kuhns, a Mercyhurst recruit who averaged 17 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks a year ago. Also back are seniors Meghan Zambruno, Maddie Pisula, Emma Riley and Laura Kondas and sophomore reserve Mya Morgan. GCC made a run to the WPIAL quarterfinals last season.

Notable

• Sewickley Academy (13-6) reached the WPIAL semifinals the past two seasons but has to replace five starters. They will rely on senior forward Desirae Nance and junior guard Rinnie Jardini.

• The open WPIAL tournament featured 21 teams a year ago. The top four teams and ties that can’t be broken in each of the four sections will qualify this season.

• Burgettstown (15-3) won the Section 3 championship last season but fell in its opening round game against GCC. Sophomore forward Kaitlyn Nease (10.6 ppg) was an all-section selection last season.

• Apollo-Ridge (8-5) graduated three starters and doesn’t have any seniors, but the Vikings will rely on junior point guard Brinley Toland (11.5 ppg), junior 5-foot-8 forward Sydney McCray and sophomore guard Sophia Yard.

• Ellis School opted out of the 2020-21 season because of covid-19 concerns but is back this year in Section 4-2A. Guard Alex Warren and forward Bella Lyda are returning starters.

• Danielle Blackburn is the new coach at Northgate (0-12). She played on the Flames’ lone WPIAL championship team in 1986.

Alignment

Section 1: Aliquippa, Neshannock, New Brighton, OLSH, Sewickley Academy, Shenango, South Side

Section 2: Beth-Center, California, Carmichaels, Frazier, Serra Catholic, Seton LaSalle

Section 3: Burgettstown, Carlynton, Chartiers-Houston, Fort Cherry, Northgate, Sto-Rox

Section 4: Apollo-Ridge, Ellis School, Greensburg Central Catholic, Jeannette, Springdale, Winchester Thurston

Bill Hartlep is the sports editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill at bhartlep@triblive.com or via Twitter @BHartlep_Trib.

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