Trib HSSN 2022-23 WPIAL Class 3A girls basketball preseason breakdown

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Wednesday, November 30, 2022 | 6:01 AM


What will Neshannock do for an encore?

After winning back-to-back WPIAL Class 2A girls basketball championships, the Lancers will look for a three-peat as they move up to Class 3A.

Lancers coach Luann Grybowski, who won the 700th game of her career and was named the state’s Class 2A coach of the year last winter, returns a talented and experienced roster but will face challenges against teams in Section 1 and the rest of the classification.

Here is a rundown of players to watch, top 5 teams and other notables in WPIAL 3A girls basketball this season.

Preseason Player of the Year

Mairan Haggerty, Neshannock

6-1, senior, guard/forward

17.1 ppg last season

Players to watch

Regan Atkins, Laurel

5-9, sr., G, 10.8 ppg

Mallory Daly, Seton LaSalle

5-8, jr., G, 24.3 ppg

Rebecca Goetz, Avonworth

5-11, jr., F, 12.6 ppg

Eriona Neal, Keystone Oaks

5-5, sr., G/F, 14.4 ppg

Kaley Rohanna, Waynesburg

5-7, jr., G, 18.1 ppg

Preseason Top 5

1. Neshannock (29-2 last season)

The Lancers captured their first state championship a year ago and also hoisted the WPIAL Class 2A title before moving up to Class 3A in the offseason. All-state guard Neleh Nogay graduated, but fellow first-team all-state selection Mairan Haggerty returns after averaging 17.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3.0 steals as a junior. Also back are senior forward Megan Pallerino and senior guard Aaralyn Nogay.

2. Avonworth (19-4)

Avonworth claimed the Section 3 championship last year and advanced to the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA playoffs while holding opponents to 26.7 points per game. The Lopes, under the guidance of first-year coach Nick Dizon, return a pair of all-section honorees in junior forward Rebecca Goetz (12.6 ppg) and sophomore guard Greta O’Brien (13.4 ppg), as well as seniors Mia Velisaris and Mary Gannon.

3. Waynesburg Central (17-6)

Waynesburg Central shared a section title with South Park last year, and the two teams are likely to again battle for the crown. Waynesburg got the best of the Eagles in the WPIAL quarterfinals last season and advanced to the PIAA playoffs. The Raiders return one of the WPIAL’s top scorers in junior guard Kaley Rohanna (18.1 ppg), who was an all-section selection a year ago, as well as guard Addison Blair and Josie Horne, who is returning from injury.

4. Laurel (14-12)

Laurel advanced to the WPIAL quarterfinals last season before running into North Catholic and also won a PIAA first-round game at Redbank Valley. The Spartans return senior guards Regan Atkins (10.8 ppg) and Danielle Pontius (10.6 ppg), who each earned all-section honors last season, as well as forwards Joselynn Fortuna and Johnna Hill.

5. OLSH (21-6)

OLSH bumps up in class after tying Neshannock for the Section 1-2A title and finishing as the WPIAL Class 2A runner-up to the Lancers last season. Senior guard Kyleigh Nagy was an all-section selection after averaging 12.5 points last season.

Notable

• Class 3A grew from 21 to 24 teams for this cycle, as Burrell, Deer Lakes, Ligonier Valley and Mt. Pleasant dropped down a class and will join Section 3. Yough also dropped down and will be part of a new-look Section 4 with Section 2 transfers Brownsville, Charleroi, McGuffey, South Park and Waynesburg Central. Neshannock, OLSH, Seton LaSalle and Apollo-Ridge also moved up from 2A.

• Seton LaSalle (18-8) reached the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA playoffs in Class 2A last year. The Rebels return junior guard Mallory Daly, who averaged 24.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.6 steals and 4.0 assists per game and was a Trib Terrific 10 all-star. She is 141 points away from 1,000 for her career.

Keystone Oaks (13-11) will battle for a playoff spot in a tough Section 2 behind senior guard/forward Eriona Neal (14.4 ppg), an all-section selection.

• Senior Brinley Toland (14.7 ppg) and junior Sophia Yard (11.6 ppg) return in the backcourt after earning all-section honors for Apollo-Ridge (16-7), which will try to contend for a title in Section 3. The Vikings return their entire roster from last season.

• Jonna Burke enters her second season as head coach at Shady Side Academy (9-12) eight wins shy of 500 for her career.

Alignment

Section 1: Beaver Falls, Ellwood City, Laurel, Mohawk, Neshannock, Riverside

Section 2: Avonworth, East Allegheny, Keystone Oaks, OLSH, Seton LaSalle, South Allegheny

Section 3: Apollo-Ridge, Burrell, Deer Lakes, Ligonier Valley, Mt. Pleasant, Shady Side Academy

Section 4: Brownsville, Charleroi, McGuffey, South Park, Waynesburg Central, Yough

Bill Hartlep is the TribLive sports editor. A Pittsburgh native and Point Park graduate, he joined the Trib in 2004, covering high school sports. He held various editing roles before assuming his current position in 2019. He can be reached at bhartlep@triblive.com.

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