Westmoreland girls basketball notebook: Monessen motivated by ‘unfinished business’

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Wednesday, February 2, 2022 | 7:56 PM


Monessen has a unique girls basketball roster.

Three seniors, no juniors, five sophomores and two freshmen.

That’s more like a gym class than a varsity team.

But the Greyhounds have turned into a playoff contender as they chase a title in Section 2-A.

Seniors Mercedes Majors (21 points per game), Kinsey Wilson and Zalendria Hardison represent the core of a team looking for another shot at a playoff win.

“We have been working hard in the offseason, and my two senior guards whom I have had for four years are playing with a chip on their shoulder,” fourth-year coach Janine Vertacnik said. “They have lost two playoff games, both of which were very winnable. We all came into this season with the motto ‘unfinished business.’ They have grown tremendously over the years.”

Monessen, chasing its first section title since 2012, is 12-5 overall and 5-2 in section, two games behind No. 2-ranked West Greene, which swept the Greyhounds in two section meetings.

The section title is a long shot. But Monessen has clinched a playoff spot.

The team lost to Aquinas Academy in the first round two years ago, 34-30, and dropped a 39-24 decision to Union last year.

Lone ranger

Penn-Trafford had a short senior night ceremony. Point guard Maura Suman is the team’s lone senior.

But as far as backcourt leaders go, she is a steal.

Suman recently became the Warriors’ all-time leader in steals with 223. She broke Taylor Cortazzo’s mark of 222 set in 2013.

Suman’s leadership has been indispensable to the Warriors.

“Maura is the heartbeat of our team,” coach John Giannikas said. “She makes her teammates better with her passing skills. There is a good chance she will finish fourth on the P-T all-time assists list, too. She always defends the other team’s best player and is a fantastic one-on-one defender, as well as a team defender. She creates for herself and others on offense and has been shooting the ball the best she has this season the past couple weeks.”

Rafferty resting

Latrobe senior center 6-foot-2 center Anna Rafferty has missed four games with a knee injury but could be back in the lineup soon. Rafferty is expected to get a brace before she returns.

Coach Mark Burkhardt said she is “day to day.”

The IUP commit and reining Trib Westmoreland Player of the Year, Rafferty is averaging 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Playoff clinchings

A number of Westmoreland teams have secured WPIAL playoff berths.

They are: Norwin and Penn-Trafford in Class 6A; Latrobe in 5A; Belle Vernon and Southmoreland in 4A; Greensburg Central Catholic in 2A; and Monessen in 1A.

The top four teams in each section qualify.

1,000 club

Greensburg Salem is welcoming back all of its girls 1,000-point scorers who will be honored at Monday’s home game against Penn Hills.

A plaque will be displayed to recognize the milestone players.

Current senior guard Abby Mankins is the latest to join the 1,000-point club, becoming the 15th member.

The top five are Danielle Dawson (2,007 points), Megan Kallock (1,868), Jessica Greene (1,556), Claire Oberdorf (1,501) and Laura Klimchock (1,476).

Showcase event

The Greensburg Central Catholic girls will play in the Ramp ‘N Rize Rumble invitational showcase Saturday at Sewickley Academy.

The Centurions (13-3) tip at 5 p.m. against Laurel (10-6).

The two-day event for charity, run by Allen Deep, the organizer of the Roundball Classic, Shootout at Seton Hill and other showcase events, features 1o games.

The other Saturday games are: Avonworth vs. Eden Christian (boys), 2 p.m.; South Side Beaver vs. Sewickley Academy (boys), 3:30; Burrell vs. New Castle (boys), 6:30; and Obama Academy vs. Quaker Valley (boys), 8.

On Sunday, it will be Our Lady of the Sacred Heart vs. Sewickley Academy (girls), 1:30; Avonworth vs. Rochester (girls), 3; Sto-Rox vs. Rochester (boys), 4:30; Our Savior Lutheran (N.Y.) vs. Carolina Academy (N.C.) (boys), 6; and Aliquippa vs. Lincoln Park (boys), 7:30.

Norwin’s big win

Norwin upset top-ranked and unbeaten North Allegheny recently in a Section 1-6A game, ending the Tigers’ 33-game section winning streak.

Norwin, ranked No. 4 in 6A, has been one of the few teams to solve North Allegheny during Tigers coach Spencer Stefko’s tenure.

Stefko is one of the top coaches in the state. He is 171-16 in seven seasons leading the team. However, four of the losses are to Norwin.

North Catholic coming to town

Norwin will host North Catholic in a girls-boys doubleheader Saturday.

The girls will tip at noon, with the boys game at 1:30.

North Catholic is No. 1 in Class 3A, and Norwin is No. 4 in 6A.

The North Catholic boys are No. 3 in 4A.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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