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

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Thursday, December 1, 2022 | 11:43 PM


Bishop Canevin captured its fifth WPIAL championship in the past seven seasons last winter and will open this season as the favorite again.

The Crusaders have four returning starters and lots of playoff experience. But several other Class A teams reached the postseason a year ago and are looking to knock the Crusaders off their throne.

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

Preseason Player of the Year

Ashley Lippold, Bishop Canevin

5-9, senior, guard

16.0 points per game

Players to watch

Kelly Cleaver, Union

6-0, jr., F, 13.5 ppg

Katie Dryer, Avella

5-4, sr., G/F, 16.3 ppg

Bella Hite, Aquinas Academy

5-3, sr., G

Hailey Johnson, Monessen

5-9, jr., G/F, 8.0 ppg

Julie Spinelli, St. Joseph

5-10, jr., G/F, 14.5 ppg

Preseason Top 5

1. Bishop Canevin (18-10 last season)

The WPIAL champions graduated just one starter (Erin Jameson) from their starting five, which returns senior guards Ashley Lippold (16.0 ppg) and Mackenzie Huet, as well as senior forward Josie Bochicchio and sophomore forward Rachel Boehm. Senior guard Amber Cross was a key player off the bench.

2. Union (22-3)

The Scotties were co-champions in Section 1 last season and advanced to the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA quarterfinals. The group held opponents to a Class A-low 29.5 points per game. Union, which lost just one player to graduation, will be led by junior all-section forward Kelly Cleaver (13.5 ppg).

3. St. Joseph (10-15)

Four starters who helped St. Joseph reach the WPIAL semifinals as a No. 9 seed return — juniors Julie Spinelli, Anna Kreinbrook and Emma Swierczewski and sophomores Gia Richter. Freshmen Kasie Cienik and Ava Roxberry and sophomore Trinity Ingram also are expected to aid a lineup that upset Mapletown and three-time defending champion Rochester in the postseason last year.

4. West Greene (18-5)

The Pioneers captured the Section 2 title last season and averaged a Class A-high 59.1 points per game. They were hit hard by graduation, including all-section performers Anna Durbin (20.1 ppg) and Brooke Barner (12.1 ppg). Sophomore forward Kasie Meek returns after averaging 6.5 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.

5. Aquinas Academy (14-8)

Aquinas Academy reached the WPIAL title game for the first time last season after winning a section title. Just one starter – senior guard/forward Bella Hite – returns, but junior Emily Fisher and Annie Austin, sophomore Violet Johnson and freshmen Ellie Junker and Tess Duer will be key contributors.

Notable

• In Class A, Jeannette dropped down from 2A and will join Section 3 with newcomer Hillel Academy, Leechburg, Riverview and St. Joseph. Aquinas Academy moved from Section 3 to 1.

Monessen (17-7) has just nine players on its roster – five juniors, four freshmen – but will look to regain the success the Greyhounds found last year when they reached the WPIAL quarterfinals and PIAA playoffs. Hailey Johnson (8.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg), Avanti Stitch and Sidney Campbell return to the starting lineup.

Eden Christian (10-11) looks to contend in Section 1 with a young lineup that includes sophomores Hope Haring, Ella D’Ippolito and Lanie Brogdon as well as senior Abby Stover.

Riverview (5-14) has reached the playoffs in 12 of the past 13 seasons, including last year as the No. 12 seed. Senior Brionna Long, junior guard Lola Abraham and sophomores Katerina Tsambis and Lily Bauer return to the starting lineup. Abraham is a Pitt soccer commit.

• Anna Leonard steps in as the new head coach at Jeannette (0-19), which is looking to snap a 41-game losing streak. Seniors Frankie Crosby, Kira Wright, Savannah Lock and Jordan Bass are back to lead the Jayhawks.

Alignment

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

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

Section 3: Hillel Academy, Jeannette, Leechburg, Riverview, St. Joseph

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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