WPIAL Class A girls basketball preseason breakdown
Thursday, December 5, 2019 | 4:19 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.
Here is a rundown of players to watch, team rankings and other notable facts for Class A girls basketball. Check out a breakdown of each class this week on the TribLive High School Sports Network. Click here for the Class 6A, 5A, 4A, 3A and 2A previews.
WPIAL Class A
Preseason Player of the Year
5-7, Junior, guard
18.3 ppg in 2018-19
Players to watch
5-5, Jr., G, 13.1 ppg
5-6, Jr., G, 14.5 ppg
5-7, So., G, 14.2 ppg
5-9, Sr., G/F, 19.5 ppg
5-10, Sr., G/F, 10.0 ppg
Preseason Top 5
1. Rochester (20-7 last season)
Coming off a WPIAL championship game triumph and a trip to the PIAA second round, Rochester has reloaded for another successful run. Junior guard Alexis Robison, a first-team all-state selection after averaging 18.3 points, returns to the lineup, along with sophomore guard Corynne Hauser (14.2 ppg) and senior forward Jasmine Mack (13 ppg, 8 rpg). All three were all-section selections. Hauser has Division I offers from Duquesne, Robert Morris and Youngstown State. Coach C.J. Iannini also expects several underclassmen to play a role this season.
2. Greensburg Central Catholic (19-4)
The Centurions have reached the playoffs for 19 straight seasons. Expect No. 20 this year. Coach Sam Salih will rely on senior all-section guard/forward Melina Maietta (19.5 ppg), as well as a deep sophomore class to defend the Section 3 title. Maietta, who also averaged 4.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.1 steals, is garnering college interest from the lower-level Division I teams and also Division II programs. Seniors Gia Scala, Teresa Kondas and Sam Nemeth also will bolster the roster.
3. West Greene (22-4)
The WPIAL runner-up Pioneers lost second-team all-state senior guards Madison and McKenna Lampe, as well as all-section forward Kaitlyn Rizor, to graduation. They do return a pair of veteran starters in junior guards Jersey Wise and Elizabeth Brudnock. West Greene won a school-record 22 games last season and reached the playoffs for the seventh time in eight years. The Pioneers have won 33 straight section games.
4. Vincentian Academy (14-13)
A challenging early-season schedule prepared the Royals for trips to the WPIAL semifinals and PIAA quarterfinals last season. The Royals will rely on senior guard/forward Alana Winkler, who averaged 10 points during an all-section campaign.
5. Quigley Catholic (14-12)
Junior guard Hailey Drutarosky is a two-time first-team all-section honoree who helped Quigley Catholic reach the WPIAL semifinals last season. She averaged 14.5 points and has 710 points in her two-year career. The Spartans also return senior forward Lillianna Briscoe (8.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and guard Haley Doyle. Freshman Mia Grisafi also is expected to make an impact. Depth could be an issue with only nine players on the roster.
• First-year coach Mark Gaither takes over at Sewickley Academy (14-9), which was second in Section 1 and reached the PIAA quarterfinals last season. He welcomes back two starters — juniors Bre Warner and Kamryn Lightcap.
• Clairton (16-5) was second in Section 3 last season behind all-section forward Iyauna Chapman, who enters her senior season after averaging 14 points last year.
• Avella (17-7) was the Section 2 runner-up last season and earned a spot in the PIAA tournament.
• California (10-11) has four starters back from a playoff team, including leading scorer Makayla Boda, a junior guard who averaged 13.1 points.
• Monessen (7-15) returns four starters under second-year coach Janine Vertacnik, including senior forward Qitarah Hardison (8.2 ppg, 10.0 rpg).
Section 1: Cornell, Eden Christian, Quigley Catholic, Rochester, Sewickley Academy, Vincentian Academy, Union
Section 2: Avella, California, Geibel, Jefferson-Morgan, Mapletown, Monessen, West Greene
Section 3: Aquinas Academy, Clairton, Greensburg C.C., Leechburg, Propel Andrew Street, St. Joseph
Bill Hartlep is the sports editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Bill at [email protected] or via Twitter @TribHSInsider.