Westmoreland County athletes of the week: Derry’s Gabe Carbonara and Franklin Regional’s Sarah Penrod

Saturday, December 17, 2022 | 1:03 PM

Gabe Carbonara

School: Derry

Sport: Basketball

Year: Senior

Claim to fame: It was quite a week for Derry senior Gabe Carbonara. The 6-foot-2 guard scored 41 points, had 21 rebounds, 16 assists and nine steals for the Trojans in games against Freeport and Greensburg Salem. His best game was Thursday against the Golden Lions, when he scored 23 points, had 11 rebounds and eight assists. He is averaging 18.6 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.

“He’s very unselfish and is a true leader,” Derry coach Tom Esposito said. “His body of work the past four years has been tremendous, and he’s reaping the benefits of the hours he’s put into building his skill set because the game has slowed down for him and he’s having fun. He doesn’t care about scoring. He just wants to win.”

Why do you expect Derry to have a much-improved season?

We worked out butts off in the offseason and we’re more skilled.

What past of your game has improved the most?

I was a late bloomer. I credit Coach Esposito and Coach (Matt) Polinsky for becoming a better player. The mental aspect of my game is a lot better. The game has slowed down. Last year, I was going 100 mph. Now I can see plays better.

How does playing basketball and volleyball help in the other sport?

My vertical has increased in volleyball and my quickness and instincts are better in basketball.

What’s better, hitting a clutch 3-pointer in basketball or a kill in volleyball?

There is nothing more exhilarating than hitting a big 3 in a close basketball game. But hitting a big spike in volleyball gets me psyched.

How has the game slowed down in basketball?

I felt the game was going so fast. But once I slowed down, my game improved a lot and my confidence grew.

What do you like most about playing high school sports?

I like how there are so many lessons to be learned in sports.

Do you hope to play a sport in college?

Yes. I hope to play basketball in college. It’s going to be a process this year, and I’m working towards it.

When you’re not playing sports, would do you like to do?

I like making money. I have two businesses that I run: landscaping and detailing cars. Money equals freedom.

What is your favorite meal your mom makes?

I like filet mignon and sweet potatoes with marshmallows on it.

Is there a special place you and your teammates go to after a game?

Grill and Chill. It’s an inside joke among us because one of my teammates thought Dairy Queen was called Grill and Chill. Actually, we go to Dino’s for wings. I like sweet and hot.

Where would your dream vacation be?

Bali. I always see videos of Bali and it looks beautiful.

Where does your family go for vacation?

My grandma’s condo on the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

Who is your favorite athlete?

Michael Jordan

If you could have dinner was anyone in the world, who would it be?

I’d have dinner with Alex Hormozi. I’d like to learn how he became so successful in business.

Sarah Penrod

School: Franklin Regional

Sport: Basketball

Year: Senior

Claim to fame: Penrod, a 5-foot-7 shooting guard, scored a career-high 25 points to lead the Panthers to a 61-47 win over Woodland Hills in the Section 1-5A opener.

A physical backcourt presence who leads the team on both ends of the court, Penrod was the team’s top returning scorer with an 8.7-point average. Sometimes, Penrod brings the ball up the floor, but she is primarily a wing.

“She is tough as nails, experienced, quick, a great defender, and she is smart,” Panthers coach Bernie Pucka said. “I can’t say enough about our natural leader in Sarah Penrod.”

You had a big game in the section opener. Did you feel like you could do that against Woodland Hills or were you having a hot shooting night?

With a new section this year, anything is up for grabs and we all went in with confidence to the game. My shots along with everyone else’s were definitely on and that really helped us to win.

What did that win do for the team’s confidence?

It really boosted our confidence knowing that we can compete with anyone this year.

Is this year’s team better than last year’s? If so, why?

Compared to last year, we have the same team. We had no graduating seniors and came back with the same girls stronger than last year. We are playing great as a team and working together to make stops on defense and transition back into offense.

What or whom got you started in basketball?

My dad and my sister got me started in basketball. My sister played when she was younger, and that’s how I got inspired to start playing.

What is your best move in basketball?

My best move is driving to the hoop and dishing off to my bigs, or completely taking it to the hoop.

Where do you get your toughness from?

From my desire and drive to win. I know our team can do great things this year, and we are all driven to make it happen.

What sport are you secretly good at?

I am secretly good at long jump.

What’s your nickname?

Some of my teammates call me Pennywise.

What’s your favorite Christmas movie?

The Polar Express.

What do you want most for Christmas this year?

I want a MacBook most.

Do you look forward to the NBA games on Christmas?


Do you know how good of a player assistant coach Krista Pietropola was at Plum and Slippery Rock?

I knew that KP was a very talented player throughout high school and college, and I realized how good she was when I had to guard her once in practice.

Do you have any unique hobbies or talents?

I can do a backflip.

If you could attend one sporting event, at any time in history, what would it be?

The 2018 NBA Championship.

Who is your favorite athlete?

Paige Bueckers.

Who is the best player you’ve had to guard?

Either KP during practice or Vito Vargo, the point guard from Mars.

The best lunch at Franklin Regional is _______

Breakfast food, for sure.

Who is the team prankster, bookworm and workout freak?

Toryn Fulton, Christina Putignano, (head coach) Bernie Pucka.

What is your dream NIL deal?

With Nike.

I have way too many ______


I don’t have enough ______

Hair ties for games and practices.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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