Westmoreland girls basketball notebook: Monessen preps for playoff return

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Wednesday, February 12, 2020 | 4:53 PM


Janine Vertacnik has coached in numerous WPIAL playoff games over the years, including when she led teams at Jeannette and Greensburg Salem.

She guided Jeannette to a WPIAL title in 2010.

Now the third-year coach at Monessen, who has more than 300 career wins, needs to educate her players on what to expect from the postseason.

“The kids are all so excited and nervous,” Vertacnik said. “I want them to calm down and be ready to play. I want to prepare them the best I can, but you never really know until you take the court.”

Monessen (15-7), seeded No. 8 in the WPIAL Class A tournament, is having a turnaround season. The Greyhounds have not appeared in the playoffs since 2013-14 and have not won a playoff game since 2012.

That win came against Rochester, the team the Greyhounds could see if they win their opener against Aquinas Academy. Top-seeded Rochester (21-1), the defending champion, has a first-round bye.

“We’d like to have a chance to play them,” Vertacnik said. “I was glad to see (No. 2) West Greene (22-0) on the other side of the bracket. Not that we don’t want to play them again, but we’d like a shot at No. 1.”

Suman hurt

Penn-Trafford sophomore guard Maura Suman suffered a shoulder injury in the Warriors’ regular-season finale against North Hills and could miss time in the playoffs.

Coach John Giannikas said he planned to sit Suman in a tri-scrimmage with Norwin and Southmoreland. Penn-Trafford (15-7) opens the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs at 8 p.m. Tuesday against Gateway (16-5) at Norwin.

Penn-Trafford edged the Gators, 59-58, early in the season when Gateway was ranked No. 2. Suman beat the buzzer with a game-winning 3-pointer.

No doubt in Scotties

Southmoreland finished 22-0 and won its first section title in 12 years, yet some thought the Scotties would drop to a No. 4 seed in the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs. Not the case.

WPIAL basketball steering committee member Bill Cardone said while there was some discussion about where Southmoreland fit best, the team ended up being “a clear choice by the entire committee” as a No. 2 seed behind defending champion and perennial power North Catholic (21-1).

“It’s a great reward for our girls,” Southmoreland coach Brian Pritts said. “We’re making history. It’s a special year, and the WPIAL recognized that.”

What is perhaps most impressive is how the Scotties kept winning after standout sophomore forward Bailey Kuhns, who transferred to Greensburg Central Catholic near the midseason point.

Scala commits

Greensburg Central Catholic senior guard Gia Scala announced recently she will continue her playing career at Point Park.

She will join two former local standouts with the Pioneers: guard Michelle Burns (Hempfield), a junior, and freshman Jordan Yaniga (Franklin Regional).

Scala, who averages 12.5 points, 5.0 assists and 2.5 steals, will lead the Centurions (14-7) into the WPIAL Class A playoffs against California (12-10) at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Peters Township.

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

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