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

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Thursday, December 9, 2021 | 7:44 PM


It has been a broken record for three straight years and counting. Rochester and West Greene dominate the rest of Class A in the regular season and district playoffs and reach the WPIAL finals. Then the page turns to the Rams getting the better of the Pioneers in the finals and taking home the gold while West Greene takes silver back to Greene County.

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

Preseason Player of the Year

Corynne Hauser, Rochester

5-8, Sr., guard

20.0 ppg last season

Players to watch

Mekenzie Robison, Rochester

5-7, Sr., G, 19.8 ppg

Anna Durbin, West Greene

5-6, Sr., G, 11.8 ppg

Emilia Johnson, Eden Christian

5-10, Sr., G, 13.5 ppg

Katie Dryer, Avella

5-5, Jr., G, 17.6 ppg

Krista Wilson, Mapletown

5-10, Jr., F, 15.0 ppg

Preseason Top 5

1. Rochester (16-4 last season)

Rochester made it back-to-back-to-back WPIAL Class A girls basketball championships and could make it four in a row with several key pieces back. Among the Rams’ returning starters are 5-7 seniors Corynne Hauser and Mekenzie Robison. Three of Rochester’s losses last season came to teams from higher classes, and they lost to only one Class A team, Bishop Guilfoyle in the PIAA semifinals.

2. Aquinas Academy (14-6)

Aquinas Academy had a breakout season in 2020-21. A year after finishing in third place, the Crusaders were undefeated in section play and won the Section 3-A title. After two postseason wins, Aquinas Academy lost to eventual champion Rochester in the semifinals. A pair of all-section players return for the Crusaders in senior Laura Richthammer and junior Bella Hite.

3. West Greene (18-4)

Silver is nice, but holidays or not, West Greene wants nothing to do with silver bells after four consecutive district runner-up trophies. The Pioneers took a hit with the graduation of Jersey Wise and Elizabeth Brudnock among others. However, coach Jordan Watson does have seniors Anna Durbin, Brooke Barner and Katie Lampe returning.

4. Clairton (12-4)

At Clairton, their motto could be, “Where there’s a will, there’s a Wade.” Bears head coach Carlton Wade’s daughter Iyanna will made her high school debut as a freshman this winter. She is the brother of former Clairton football star Lamont Wade. Also back for Clairton are seniors Khalaya Knowell, Jerzee Sutton and Arissa Wiggins.

5. Monessen (9-12)

Monessen finished in second place behind West Greene in Section 2-A last year. The Greyhounds lost in the first round of the playoffs and are looking for their first postseason victory in 10 years. Hope for the ‘Hounds is there as they return four starters in seniors Mercedes Majors and Kinsey Wilson along with sophomores Avanti Stitch and Hailey Johnson.

Notable

• Rochester hopes to become only the second school overall and the first public school to win four consecutive WPIAL Class A girls basketball titles. Vincentian Academy won five in a row from 2012-2016. The only other public school to three-peat in Class A girls hoops was Avonworth from 1992-1994.

• Rochester defeated West Greene for a third straight year in the WPIAL Class A championship game, 71-41. The Rams beat the Pioneers in the three title games by a combined score of 192-140. The same teams playing in three consecutive finals has never happened in the 43-year history of the classification. Serra Catholic faced Monessen in three title games in four years between 2003-2006.

• While Rochester joined St. Francis Academy (1989-91), Avonworth (1992-94) and Vincentian Academy (2012-16) as the only Class A girls teams to three-peat, West Greene also made history in losing in title game again. No other WPIAL girls basketball team has ever lost four consecutive district championship games. The Pioneers lost three straight to the Rams and also fell to Winchester Thurston in the 2018 finals.

• There were no coaching changes in boys Class A hoops; however, there are four new faces leading their teams on the sidelines this season in WPIAL Class A girls basketball. Bishop Canevin, the 2020 2A district champion, has a new coach in Maddie Bazelak. The others are Sara Larkin at Geibel Catholic, Bob Perry at Propel Andrew Street and Jill Catanzaro at Riverview. Geibel and Propel combined for one win last season while Riverview finished 6-7.

• Three other teams to watch are Union in Section 1 and Avella and Mapletown in Section 2. Only five of the 17 Class A girls basketball teams from last season finished with an overall winning record. They were finalists Rochester and West Greene along with Aquinas Academy, Clairton and Eden Christian Academy.

2021-2022 Alignment

Section 1: Bishop Canevin, Cornell, Eden Christian Academy, Rochester, Union

Section 2: Avella, Geibel Catholic, Jefferson-Morgan, Mapletown, Monessen, West Greene

Section 3: Aquinas Academy, Clairton, Leechburg, Propel Andrew Street, Riverview, St. Joseph

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