Westmoreland high school basketball notebook: Penn-Trafford’s Giannikas hits 200 wins

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021 | 6:17 PM


John Giannikas took over the Penn-Trafford girls basketball program prior to the 2006-07 season. The Warriors were a hit-or-miss playoff team in the years leading up to his start date.

They even went 0-23 in 2002.

But Giannikas steered the team in the right direction and turned it into a playoff regular. Soon, the wins added up.

On Monday night, a milestone was reached when the coach posted his 200th win. The Warriors (5-0) held back visiting Norwin, 50-46.

Giannikas is 200-139 in 14-plus seasons. A playoff trip this year would be the 12th in his tenure.

Penn-Trafford won a WPIAL championship in 2013-14. The Warriors, one of just three undefeated teams in Class 6A after Monday’s win, have 10 double-digit-win seasons under Giannikas including four of 20 or more victories.

“ ‘G’ is selfless and humble but fiercely competitive,” said Warriors assistant coach Dave Moio, who has been on staff with Giannikas for eight years. “His teams embody these core values, and it has become the way we play at P-T. He consistently talks to the players about respect for opponents, carrying themselves with humility and striving to improve. We are at the same time working hard, preparing diligently and making sure that we are having fun, laughing and staying mindful that our character is defined more by what we do and say off of the floor than anything we achieve on the floor.”

FR shuts down

The Franklin Regional girls program is on pause because of covid-19 until Jan. 26.

The Lady Panthers, who had two recent games postponed, can begin practice again Tuesday after a 10-day quarantine. After two practices, they can play games again.

As of now, their first game back will be noon Jan. 30 at home against Hempfield.

Brush to Seton Hill

Franklin Regional’s Maria Brush will be a preferred walk-on at Seton Hill. The senior guard, who can play the point or two-guard, will have a roster spot and can earn a scholarship on coach Mark Katarski’s team.

Brush, who plans to study to become a physician’s assistant, said she began sending out highlights to colleges during the initial covid-19 quarantine and toured Seton Hill over the summer.

Chatham and Pitt-Greensburg also showed interest.

“Coach Katarski had been an amazing help to me,” Brush said. “I know Seton Hill has a very very good women’s basketball program, and I feel so lucky to be a part of that. I feel so blessed to be able to continue my athletic and academic careers and Seton Hill.”

Norwin setback

Norwin coach Brian Brozeski was not pleased with his team’s performance Monday against Penn-Trafford. Especially after the Knights, who came in ranked No. 4 in Class 6A, had given up fewer than 30 points in three previous games with a tone-setting defense.

But Penn-Trafford (5-0), a talented team in its own right that is off to a solid start, did things many teams don’t do against the Knights (4-1) and won 50-46. Norwin had trouble getting stops and was forced to make tough shots on the offensive end.

“They put it to us,” Brozeski said. “There were 50-50 balls that we didn’t come up with. We have to better mentally prepared. We’ll look back at the film and go from there.”

Rocky road

Southmoreland went 11-0 on the road last season on the way to a 22-0 regular season. But the Scotties, the preseason No. 1 in Class 4A who fell to West Mifflin on Tuesday, 36-35, are 0-2 away from home this year.

Conversely, Southmoreland has won 25 straight at home.

Greensburg Salem returns

Practice resumed this week at Greensburg Salem, and the girls team finally will open the season at 11 a.m. Saturday at home against Kiski Area.

The Golden Lions are coming off a 10-day shutdown because of covid-19 exposure. They also were paused for 14 days last month and for three weeks when Gov. Tom Wolf’s mandate came down.

The Ligonier Valley girls, meanwhile, are scheduled to open their season Saturday at Yough. It will be the Rams’ first game in the WPIAL.

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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