With small, young roster, Southmoreland girls aim to improve, stay competitive

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Sunday, November 26, 2023 | 7:17 PM


Southmoreland will begin the 2023-24 girls basketball season with “a clean slate.” It’s simply the best description coach Amber Cernuto can surmise.

Perhaps, it’s the only one?

“We only have 10 players, so we won’t even be having a JV season this year,” she said. “Everybody is going to get an opportunity to contribute at the varsity level. We can possibly be competitive this year, more than last. We’re coming in with a positive approach.”

The Scotties, who a season ago were 2-20 (1-11 in Section 3-4A of the WPIAL) after a string of productive years, were preparing to open another season Friday against visiting Class 2A Frazier without anyone returning as double-figure scorers.

Among the departed are Maddie Moore, who led Southmoreland last year with an average of 13.0 points per game, and Regan Carson. Also, Cernuto’s daughter, Olivia, the team’s top player as a junior, missed her senior year with a knee injury.

She has recovered and is averaging 10.4 minutes per game as a freshman guard at Gannon, ranked No. 16 in Division II.

“We could’ve been better last year, but it seemed everyone said we’re done when the injury happened,” Amber Cernuto said. “Now, we’re looking at who wants to step up and take control. Who wants to be a leader?

“We’ve just been focusing on the basics.”

Four starters return.

“We have a good variety to work with,” Cernuto said.

Senior Bea Pawlikowski is expected to begin the year at point guard, 5-foot-10 junior Olivia Aumer will patrol the middle and senior guard Gianna Perbonish is an outside shooting threat.

Senior Lynzee Moore, a 5-7 guard, is the other returning starter. Along with 5-10 senior forward Sophie Slater, they form a duo Cernuto is counting on for defensive instincts.

“Lynzee is long, and Sophie is a track jumper. She is tall and quick and can help in the paint,” Cernuto said.

She said Slater and sophomore guard Leah Moore likely will get plenty of opportunities to contribute as first-year varsity regulars.

With a thin roster, every player’s contributions sorely will be needed for a team with just two victories a year ago, prompting Cernuto to set some simple goals.

“We’re going to start over, be intense on the court and try our best,” she said. “Our goal this season is to improve and try to make the playoffs.”

Southmoreland girls at a glance

Coach: Amber Cernuto

Last year’s record: 2-20 (1-11 Section 3-4A)

Returning starters: Olivia Aumer (Jr., F-C), Lynzee Moore (Sr., G), Bea

Pawlikowsky (Sr., G), Gianna Perbonish (Sr., G)

Top newcomers: Leah Moore (Soph., G), Sophie Slater (Sr., F)

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