Trib HSSN Girls Basketball Player of the Week for week ending Feb. 7, 2021

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Sunday, February 7, 2021 | 12:01 AM


With limited offseason team workouts, the more experienced teams have had an advantage in playing during the pandemic.

That is especially true on the high school level, where coaches greatly value offseason drills and conditioning in building a solid team foundation.

“We have all had many challenges,” Albert Gallatin girls basketball coach Ellen Hildebrand said. “We were ready to go, and then we got shut down and lost conditioning. We are a young program, so no spring league, no summer league, no fall league really impacted our ability to continue offseason development for our young program.

“We felt we had a playoff team last year and finished fifth. Everyone on our team was injured at some point, and we lost three starters for the year at the beginning of section play. We were disappointed we did not get the taste of the playoff experience.”

That sweet taste will come this year with the open tournament. However even in a ‘normal’ season, Albert Gallatin would be earning their stripes partly thanks to the play of Bryn Bezjak.

The senior enjoyed a big week, starting with a 35-point performance in the Colonials’ section win over Connellsville.

“She really found her groove on her shot,” Hildebrand said about Bezjak’s performance Tuesday. “She spent some extra time in the gym, and it really paid off.”

Bezjak followed up theat performance 24 hours later by scoring 25 in a nonsection win at Beth-Center. In the game, Bejzak eclipsed the 1,000-point milestone for her career.

“She and her teammates were really focused on helping her accomplish her personal goal,” Hildebrand said. “This team is unselfish, and I was proud of how our team rallied to assist her. We are looking for players who want their teammates to be successful.”

Bejzak 236 points this season and averages nearly 20 per game, but there is a lot more to her game.

“She is a well-rounded player,” Hildebrand said. “She has great ball-handling skills, can drive and shoot the 3-ball as well as being one of our best defensive players.”

Hildebrand also likes how Bejzak and her senior teammates are developing into good leaders.

“She is growing into her leadership role. We talk to all of the seniors (Olivia Miller and Noah Turner) about leading their team, not only by being a good example, but by communicating on and off the floor and building relationships with everyone in our program.”

Heading into the final two weeks of the regular season, Albert Gallatin is 9-3 overall. The Colonials are 5-3 in Section 3-5A, trailing only top-ranked Trinity and Thomas Jefferson.

AG hosts Trinity on Monday. A tall task after the Hillers won the earlier meeting by 42 points.

“We need to take a page from their book and bring defensive intensity, especially in transition,” Hildebrand said. “Trinity has never stopped playing through the covid challenges,l and that’s why they are No. 1 in the WPIAL. Our players need to have the same dedication in the offseason. As we say, basketball players are made in the offseason.”

2021 Trib HSSN Girls Basketball Players of the Week

Week 3 – Mallory Daly, Brentwood

Week 2 – Olivia Westphal, Bethel Park

Week 1 – Ashleigh Connor, Mt. Lebanon

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