WPIAL Class 6A girls basketball preseason breakdown
Saturday, November 30, 2019 | 7:46 PM
WPIAL girls basketball season will tip off next weekend.
Preparing to defend their district championship from a year ago are Peters Township (6A), Chartiers Valley (5A), North Catholic (4A), Neshannock (3A), Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (2A) and Rochester (A).
North Catholic is looking for a fourth straight district crown while Chartiers Valley hopes to win a third WPIAL title in the last four years.
Also last year, Peters Township and Chartiers Valley capped off perfect seasons with PIAA championships.
WPIAL Class 6A
Preseason Player of the Year
5-9, junior, guard
16.9 ppg in 2018-19
Players to watch
5-11, Sr., G/F, 14.0 ppg
5-8, Sr., G, 16.1 ppg
5-11, Jr., G, 13.3 ppg
5-10, Sr., G, 17.3 ppg
6-1, So., F, 12.8 ppg
Preseason Top 5
1. Bethel Park (22-4)
Bethel Park lost just four games last season — all against state champion Peters Township — en route to appearances in the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA playoffs. Olivia Westphal, a junior guard who averaged 16.7 points per game and was third team all-state last season, returns to the lineup. She has offers from Cleveland State, Monmouth, Brown, Wichita State, Miami (Ohio), Toledo, Charlotte, Fordham, Oakland, Western Michigan and Colgate. The Black Hawks lost all-section guard Maria Cerro (10.3 ppg) to graduation, but do return St. Bonaventure recruit Maddie Dziezgowski.
2. North Allegheny (24-3)
North Allegheny has won two of the past three WPIAL championships and, after falling to Peters Township by three points in last year’s title game, looks to have the players to contend again this season. The group is led by junior guard Lizzy Groetsch, a Division I prospect who averaged 13.3 points in an all-section campaign last season. Freshman point guard Jasmine Timmerson also will be a player to watch. She has already been offered by Michigan State, Duquesne and Niagara. The Tigers will miss graduates Rachel Martindale and Brynn Serbin.
3. Peters Township (30-0)
What can Peters Township do for an encore? The Indians captured WPIAL and PIAA titles and celebrated an undefeated season a year ago. Makenna Marisa was named the state’s Class 6A player of the year before heading off to Penn State, and Isabella Mills was a second-team all-state selection. Those two players are gone, but the Indians return top-tier talent for a repeat bid. Sophomore Journey Thompson, a 6-foot-1 forward who averaged nearly 13 points and 8 rebounds last season, will anchor the Indians at both ends of the floor. She has Division I offers from Robert Morris, St. John’s, Kent State, Western Michigan and Pitt.
4. Norwin (23-3)
After claiming WPIAL championships in 2015 and ’16, Norwin has continued to produce contending teams. Behind all-section guards Olivia Gribble (16.1 ppg) and Jayla Wehner (7.2 ppg), the Knights reached the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA quarterfinals last season. Gribble, who was a third-team all-state selection, and Wehner return for their senior season, though graduates Emily Brozeski and Jessica Kolesar will be missed. Junior guard Danielle Rosso also returns after earning honorable mention all-section honors.
5. Fox Chapel (15-9)
Four starters return for the Foxes, who reached the WPIAL quarterfinals and PIAA playoffs last year. Domenica Delaney, Claire Fenton, Gabby Guerrieri and Ellie Schwartzmann all averaged 8.5 points. They will be under the guidance of first-year coach Marty Matvey, who coached South Park the past five seasons.
• Mt. Lebanon (12-11) has just one senior on the roster this season — guard Patrice Smith, who will run track at Columbia. The Blue Devils, under veteran coach Dori Oldaker, also will lean on sophomore guard Ashleigh Connor. Both players were second-team all-section last season.
• Seneca Valley returns several contributors from a 15-8 team that reached the WPIAL quarterfinals, including senior forward Madelyn Karchut.
• Shaler (7-14) brings back three starters, including senior all-section guard Emily Cavacini (13.2 ppg).
• Butler (8-14) features Slippery Rock commit Jordan Kauffman, who averaged 12 points last season and hit 51 shots from 3-point range. She was a second-team all-section selection.
• Baldwin (9-13) has a few junior prospects in Anna Lucarelli, Meghan Dryburgh and Lexi Bernotas.
• Connellsville (6-16) will look to make some noise in Section 2 this season behind 6-4 senior center Sara Aumer, a North Carolina A&T recruit. The Falcons return four starters.
• Upper St. Clair (11-12) finished fourth in Section 2 last season but was hit hard by graduation and lost all five starters.
Section 1: Butler, Fox Chapel, North Allegheny, North Hills, Norwin, Pine-Richland, Seneca Valley, Shaler
Section 2: Baldwin, Bethel Park, Canon-McMillan, Connellsville, Hempfield, Mt. Lebanon, Peters Township, Upper St. Clair
Bill Hartlep is the sports editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill at [email protected] or via Twitter @TribHSInsider.