With structure in place, Greensburg Salem girls emerge as Class 4A contenders

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Wednesday, January 11, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Greensburg Salem girls basketball players line up differently at times for the national anthem.

Sometimes, it is by height — from 6-foot-1 Kaitlyn Mankins down to 5-1 freshman Mya Heasley. Other nights, it is by number: No. 1 Heasley to senior Paytan Henry, who wears No. 34.

“It’s about structure for us,” Golden Lions coach Rick Klimchock said. “It’s organization that helps us build a culture.

“You look at our locker room and the light show (before games). It’s all part of what we’re building here.”

Something else has become more routine around the program: winning.

Greensburg Salem is one of the top girls basketball teams in WPIAL Class 4A this season, and it’s the order of things that has the team playing well together.

“Rick does a great job with his girls,” North Catholic coach Molly Rottman said. “We know this section is going to be tough (to win) because of teams like them.”

Greensburg Salem was ranked No. 4 when it hosted No. 2 North Catholic last week. Despite playing the Trojanettes close for a half, the Golden Lions fell, 62-41, to end an eight-game winning streak.

Still, being able to compete with the reigning WPIAL 3A champs meant something.

“North Catholic tries to knock you out early,” Klimchock said. “We withstood that. We prepare the same way, with extensive scouting reports, no matter who we play. We tried to treat that game like any other.”

Greensburg Salem junior guard Ashlan Price said the first North Catholic game was a learning experience and still gave the team confidence.

Greensburg Salem might be structured, but North Catholic is structured and perennially good.

Price made three 3-pointers and had 13 points in the loss to North Catholic. The Trojanettes made 12 of 19 3s, including 5 of 7 in the third quarter, to take command and pull away.

“North Catholic is like a role model for us,” Price said. “We want to be at the same level. We need to work on our shooting and close out better on defense.”

Greensburg Salem (9-3, 2-2) has lost two in a row after the hot start, losing at Knoch, 46-42, on Monday. The Golden Lions fell from the TribLive top five but remain a strong playoff contender in Section 1.

What is interesting about the Golden Lions is the majority of their rotation features girls who played junior varsity last year.

That includes Price.

“Last year we had six seniors,” Price said. “We all played JV together, so we have some team chemistry. Our defense gets us going and gets everyone pumped up. That connects to our offense. We try to keep up with people, get the right matchups and get under your skin.”

Greensburg Salem, which likes to press, was allowing just 30.5 points through 11 games.

Its other loss came against Greensburg Central Catholic, 49-41.

“Hard-nosed defense and good transition are some things that make us good,” Klimchock said. “And our girls had skill work in the summer, which I think has really helped.”

Jeff Mankins, the program’s seventh-grade coach, worked with the varsity girls in the summer.

Klimchock said Price, leading scorer Kaitlyn Mankins, sophomore guard Regan Kerr and junior guard Gia Rosensteel were there all summer for skill work.

Seniors Ashley Smith and Henry joined in when they weren’t playing soccer.

“It all plays a part in what we’re doing here,” Klimchock said.

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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