Trib HSSN 2022-23 WPIAL Class 5A girls basketball preseason breakdown

By:
Sunday, November 27, 2022 | 9:09 PM


It’s become a common theme to list Chartiers Valley among the preseason favorites for the WPIAL Class 5A title. This year, though, the Colts are notably missing from that group.

Chartiers Valley, which won the WPIAL 5A title in 2017, ’19, ’20 and ’21 and finished as the district runner-up last season, moved up to 6A via PIAA realignment in the offseason. Many teams are looking to take the Colts place among 5A contenders.

WPIAL champion South Fayette has eyes on defending its title, and the Lions return several key contributors in their quest.

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

Preseason Player of the Year

Maddie Webber, South Fayette

5-11, senior, guard

17.0 ppg last season

Players to watch

Emma Blair, Latrobe

6-0, sr., F., 14.2 ppg

Eve Fiala, Indiana

6-4, sr., C, 12.8 ppg

Ava Leroux, South Fayette

6-4., sr., C, 10 ppg

Meghan Murray, Hampton

5-7, jr., G, 15.6 ppg

Emma Paul, Armstrong

5-4, jr., G, 18.0 ppg

Preseason Top 5

1. South Fayette (23-5 last season)

The Lions enter the season as the favorite to defend their WPIAL title behind a pair of Division I recruits. Senior guard Maddie Webber (Villanova) was a second-team all-state selection after averaging 17 points, while 6-foot-4 senior center Ava Leroux (Elon) earned all-section honors after averaging 10 points and 8 rebounds. Junior guard Lainey Yater also returns after earning second-team all-section honors.

2. Indiana (20-4)

Indiana reached the WPIAL quarterfinals a year ago behind towering forwards Eve Fiala (6-foot-5) and Katie Kovalchick (6-4), who were each first-team all-section selections and averaged in double figures. Fiala is committed to Dayton and Kovalchick will play at W&J. Junior guard Bella Antonacci also returns, and freshman guard Jayla Peterson is expected to make an immediate impact. The Little Indians won the Section 2 title last year but have moved to Section 1.

3. McKeesport (23-6)

Behind a large group of talented underclassmen, the Tigers reached the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA tournament a year ago. McKeesport will rely on a pair of first-team all-section performers in juniors Rachael Manfredo (12.0 ppg) and Brooke Evans (8.0 ppg). Senior guard/forward Avionna Menifee was a second-teamer, while juniors Madison Hertzler and Kaylee Charles picked up honorable-mention recognition.

4. Latrobe (18-5)

Latrobe has reached the WPIAL semifinals and quarterfinals the past two seasons and returns a strong lineup that should again contend. The group is led by senior 6-foot-1 forward Emma Blair, a South Carolina Upstate commit. Also back are 6-foot senior Camille Dominick (a Pitt-Johnstown commit), junior point guard Elle Snyder and senior forward Josie Straigis.

5. Hampton (18-5)

Section 2 runner-up Hampton returns a pair of starters — all-section guard Meghan Murray (15.3 ppg, 4.3 apg) and guard/forward Claire Rodgers (7.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg). Kathleen Milon is a 3-point threat.

Notable

• In Class 5A, Sections 1 and 4 will have a different look. Section 1 will be made up of teams from the East Suburbs and beyond, including Franklin Regional, Gateway, Penn Hills and Woodland Hills, who moved over from Section 4, along with Section 2 transfers Indiana, Kiski Area and Plum. North Hills, Shaler and Penn-Trafford dropped to 5A from 6A.

Trinity (18-7) qualified for the PIAA playoffs last year after reaching the WPIAL quarterfinals. Senior guard Eden Williamson (15.4 ppg) returns after earning all-section honors. Junior guards Ruby Morgan and Maddy Roberts were second-team all-section picks, and junior Macie Justice was honorable mention. All-section guard Alyssa Clutter (17.8 ppg) graduated.

Oakland Catholic (15-11), a WPIAL quarterfinalist and PIAA qualifier last season, returns senior all-section guards Alexa Washington, Halena Hill and Rachel Haver, plus senior forward Maura Schorr.

Penn-Trafford (12-10) reached the WPIAL quarterfinals last season in Class 6A and will look to junior guard Olivia Pepple (11 ppg) and senior guard Kylee Piconi this season.

• Junior guard Emma Paul led Class 5A in scoring at 18 points per game as a sophomore and returns to lead Armstrong (13-10), along with junior forward Kayla Fitzgerald and senior guard Olivia Yancy, who also were all-section selections.

• Section 3 runner-up Albert Gallatin (16-5) returns a pair of all-section players in seniors Gianna Michaux (15.0 ppg) and Courtlyn Turner (12.4 ppg).

Alignment

Section 1: Franklin Regional, Gateway, Indiana, Kiski Area, Penn Hills, Plum, Woodland Hills

Section 2: Armstrong, Fox Chapel, Hampton, Mars, New Castle, North Hills, Shaler

Section 3: Albert Gallatin, Connellsville, Latrobe, McKeesport, Oakland Catholic, Penn-Trafford, Thomas Jefferson

Section 4: Lincoln Park, Montour, Moon, South Fayette, Trinity, West Allegheny

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

More Basketball

High school roundup for Feb. 4, 2023: Laurel Highlands edges past South Allegheny in 4A heavyweight clash
WPIAL girls basketball rankings: Week ending February 5, 2023
WPIAL boys basketball rankings: Week ending February 5, 2023
New-look Aquinas girls roster back in WPIAL Class A mix
Shady Side Academy boys weather storm as injuries hit