Under new coach, Cheswick Christian girls focus on speed, defense

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Wednesday, November 16, 2022 | 3:43 PM


The Cheswick Christian girls basketball team enters the 2022-23 season off a playoff appearance and a winning record at 10-9 in what was a return to a full schedule after the team played just nine games the year before.

Gone from that team are three starters: Daylin Rivera, Olivia Rochkind and Abby Zuback. The team will also be under new management on the bench with coach Paul Kostick, who takes over for Jacque Willis, who resigned to focus on grad school.

Kostick, a Cheswick Christian alumnus, takes over with some experience, having coached at Cheswick Christian as well as a school in California. It’ll be his first time coaching girls since 2008. He was around the team a bit last year, he said, with his daughter being on the varsity team.

“We lost three seniors, so that hurts a little bit, but that’s the nature of high school basketball,” Kostick said. “We only have one senior, so we have a pretty young team. We’re expecting to be competitive though in our division, and I think we can be better than last year.”

Kostick said the team will certainly miss the size Rochkind provided last year, as well as Zuback and Rivera’s contributions. Bella Cullaj returns as the team’s only senior this season, and Ally Szarmowski will be an outside threat as a junior. She had multiple 20-point games last season.

Things may look a bit different this season on the hardwood for the Chargers, stylistically.

“Speed and defense will be our identity. I’m a defensive-minded coach, so we’ll pressure the ball and try to get a lot of fast breaks,” Kostick said. “It’ll definitely be a little different than they’re used to.”

Kostick said it’s been a bit tough to get ready with the size of the gym at Cheswick Christian, but he has raised some money to practice elsewhere in a bigger gym that has allowed them to do more drills.

He expects more good things from the team coming off a successful season.

“I’m looking to have a winning season and make it at least a round further than we went last year,” Kostick said. “I’m looking to overcome the fact that some of the schools are bigger than us and their facilities are bigger.”

The Chargers will open the season Dec. 6 against Portersville Christian.

At a glance

Last year’s record: 10-9

Returning starters: Bella Cullaj (Sr., G), Ally Szarmowski (Jr., G)

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