Trib HSSN 2021-22 WPIAL Class 5A girls basketball preseason breakdown

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Sunday, December 5, 2021 | 3:24 PM


Chartiers Valley has won three straight WPIAL Class 5A girls basketball championships, and it looks like contenders will have to again deal with the Colts being favored this season.

Five starters return for the Colts, including reigning Pennsylvania’s Class 5A Player of the Year, Aislin Malcolm, a Pitt recruit who averaged nearly 17 points in leading Chartiers Valley to a PIAA runner-up finish.

Here is a rundown of players to watch, top five teams and other notables in WPIAL 5A girls basketball this season.

Preseason player of the year

Aislin Malcolm

Chartiers Valley

5-11, senior, guard

16.8 ppg last season

Players to watch

Graci Fairman

Thomas Jefferson

5-5, Sr., G, 15.0 ppg

Eve Fiala

Indiana

6-4, Jr., F, 16.4 ppg (in 2019-20)

Perri Page

Chartiers Valley

6-0, Sr., G/F, 15.0 ppg

Anna Rafferty

Latrobe

6-2, Sr., F, 12.3 ppg

Emma Theodorsson

Moon

6-0, Sr., G/F, 18.9 ppg

Preseason Top 5

1. Chartiers Valley (25-4 last season)

Opponents will encounter a Chartiers Valley starting five that is all bound for collegiate basketball. Senior Aislin Malcolm (16.8 points per game), an all-state and all-section pick, is headed to Pitt, and senior Perri Page (15 ppg, 11 rpg) is a Columbia recruit and returning all-section selection. In addition, Marian Turnbull is committed to Northeastern and Helene and twin sister Hallie Cowan will play at Seton Hill. In addition to winning a third straight WPIAL title and reaching the PIAA finals, Chartiers Valley set a state record last season for consecutive wins at 64 games.

2. Latrobe (14-3)

The defending Section 4 champion Wildcats return four starters from a team that reached the WPIAL semifinals before falling to Chartiers Valley. The group includes senior 6-foot-2 forward Anna Rafferty, an IUP recruit who averaged 12.3 points and 10 rebounds last season. Junior forward Emma Blair (6-1) gives the Wildcats a tall 1-2 punch in the paint.

3. Trinity (21-2)

WPIAL runner-up Trinity graduated three all-section players — Courtney Dahlquist, Kaylin Venick and Emily Venick — but returns some experienced athletes who helped the team earn marquee wins over Chartiers Valley and North Allegheny last season. Senior guard Alyssa Clutter and junior guard Eden Williamson return for the Hillers. Dahlquist, now at Campbell, was a second-team all-state selection.

4. Moon (7-12)

Moon finished fourth in Section 1 last season behind senior guard/forward Emma Theodorsson, a Bucknell recruit who was a third-team all-state selection after averaging 18.0 points. The Tigers will get a boost this season with the return of senior guard Reilly Sunday, a Duquesne recruit who missed last season with a knee injury. She was an all-section selection who averaged more than 20 points as a sophomore.

5. Woodland Hills (13-7)

WPIAL semifinalists last season, the Wolverines graduated all-section guard/forward Peyton Pinkney (Eastern Michigan), who averaged 15.2 points. Senior guards Jazmine Dunn and Jasmyn Fisher, as well as junior guard Kayla Walter are among key returning players.

Notable

• Indiana (8-10) has four returning starters, including IUP commit Hope Cook, a senior guard. But another former starter also is back. Junior 6-4 forward Eve Fiala, a Division I prospect, returned to Indiana after transferring to Pine-Richland last December for her sophomore year. She sat out her sophomore season after averaging 16.4 points, 14.5 rebounds and 3.2 blocks as a freshman for the Little Indians. She has scholarship offers from Mississippi State, West Virginia, Maryland, Michigan State, Pitt, Penn State and Ohio State.

• Last season’s open WPIAL Class 5A tournament included 26 teams. The field will be limited to 16 teams (top four in each section) this season.

• Defending Section 2 champion Hampton (15-6) returns four starters, including guards Sophie Kelly (11.6 ppg), Meghan Murray (9.5 ppg) and Kayla Hoehler (13.7 ppg), who each earned all-section honors.

• Thomas Jefferson (12-10) finished second to Trinity in Section 3. The Jaguars return a talented scorer in senior guard Graci Fairman (15.0 ppg), an all-section selection last season.

• Section 1 runner-up Oakland Catholic (11-10) will lean on senior all-section guard Alexa Washington (13.2 ppg).

• Seton Hill recruit Abby Mankins, an all-section guard who averaged 16.0 points and is nearing 1,000 career points, returns to lead Greensburg Salem (8-12).

2021-22 Alignment

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 bhartlep@triblive.com or via Twitter @BHartlep_Trib.

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