Valley girls basketball team will measure success by progress

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Monday, November 28, 2022 | 8:08 PM


Aelan Wyley has plans to be an architect someday. For now, she’d like to win more basketball games.

With the start of the girls regular season approaching, the Valley senior guard good-naturedly laughed off the Vikings’ inability to score points and post victories, acknowledging it’s been much longer since the program has tasted much success.

“We are at that point now where we want to win a few games,” said Wyley, who is among five returning starters this year. “Slacking off is not an option.”

Wyley and her teammates are in unison with their devotion to second-year coach Marta Regus, the latest in a long line to try their hand at turning around the Vikings’ fortunes.

Regus, a longtime emotional support teacher in New Kensington-Arnold School District and a former volleyball coach at the defunct General Braddock High School, said victories still might be hard to come by after the Vikings fought through a 1-18 season in her first season.

“We’re going to get better. I know that,” she said.

There’s virtually no other direction to go. Valley, coming off an 0-12 mark in Section 1-4A, hasn’t beaten a WPIAL section opponent in eight seasons, a span of 96 games.

What’s more, the Vikings haven’t been to the WPIAL playoffs since losing to Thomas Jefferson in 2011 and haven’t won a playoff game since defeating Keystone Oaks in 2002.

In the past three years, their combined record is 3-48. They were outscored a year ago by an average of nearly 34 points while scoring an average of 26.5.

Regus maintains a positive attitude in spite of it, preferring to focus on the overall development of her players.

“They want to accomplish more than they did last year,” she said. “They do want to be more competitive. They’ve been giving 100%.”

With victories elusive at Valley — no team has won more than four games since the 2007-08 squad finished with a 5-19 record — Regus said she uses tactics such as challenging her girls to top the team’s point total from the previous game.

She insists the process works.

“Let’s just first make a goal to score in double digits,” she said. “We can say we know (the opponent) is a good team. We might not win, but if we get our goal of, say, 22 points, we celebrate. We know we’re not a high-fundamental team.”

Regus took Valley to a summer league at Highlands this year and happily tells anyone of her delight in watching her girls perform.

“I enjoy them, and they enjoy me. A lot of people say they’ve seen improvements,” she said. “You can tell the girls are eager to go out there and accomplish something they haven’t accomplished in a long time.”

With a pause, Regus reflected on her unusual yet positive-minded concept.

“Even if we don’t win a game, we will be more competitive.” she said. “My goal is to teach them to work on feeling confident in themselves, and I’m looking forward to seeing it.”

While the emphasis is on improving, Wyley is counting on eclipsing the team’s meager one-game total of last season, and she’s confident Regus’ prodding is driving a winning mentality.

“She knows how to push you to be better,” Wyley said. “She’s great. It’s been a different feeling to know you have a coach who cares about you. It’s not about the points. She wants you to be the best you can be. I wasn’t even going to play basketball, even though I feel like I can be a good basketball player. She sees me as one, and that means a lot.”

Joining Wyley as returning starters in Valley’s guard-oriented scheme are seniors Tori Johnson and Jada Norman, junior Ryleigh Kasten and Jada Norman’s younger sister, 6-foot-2 sophomore Janelle Norman.

Regus is hoping to establish some useful depth on the roster with senior Zhyaire Trammell, sophomores Neveah Lyle and Gabby Chambers and freshman Ameria Simmons.

Valley remains a member of Section 1-4A, where Greensburg Salem and North Catholic have replaced Burrell and Deer Lakes. Other teams remaining in the section are Derry, Freeport, Highlands and Knoch.

At a glance

Coach: Marta Regus

Last year’s record: 1-18 (0-12 Section 1-4A)

Returning starters: Tori Johnson (Sr., G), Ryleigh Kasten (Jr., G), Jada Norman (Sr., F), Janelle Norman (Soph., F/C), Aelan Wyley (Sr., G)

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