WPIAL Girls Basketball Team of the Week: Week ending Dec. 14

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Sunday, December 15, 2019 | 4:57 PM


Jeff Homziak is in his 13th year as girls basketball coach at Hopewell.

He has seen the best of times, such as 2012, when the Vikings won the WPIAL Class AAA championship.

He also has been there for the worst of times, such as an 0-20 season four years ago.

After a winning a total of 17 games over the past four seasons, Hopewell is off to a 4-0 start in the 2019-20 season.

“Our staff is very happy for this group to start the way they have these first four games,” Homziak said. “The group has been working hard and is receptive to what is being taught in order for us to be successful and continue to improve going forward.”

After winning the South Side tip-off tournament with victories over Beaver Fall and South Side, the Vikings faced Beaver Falls for the second time in three days with the same result.

“Our team shared the basketball extremely well versus Beaver Falls on the offensive end,” Homziak said. “Our defense has been much improved so far this season, which has helped us score some easy baskets that we have not been able to do the past few years.”

Hopewell then opened play in Section 2-4A with a home victory over Ambridge.

“When our group defeated Ambridge the second time through the section last season, it gave them the confidence and belief that they could compete with the teams in our section if they played with passion and as a team,” Homziak said. “That belief carried over to start the season. This group is very complementary of each other throughout these first four games.”

After back-to-back seven-win seasons, the Vikings appear to be well on their way to their most successful season in years. Homziak said a boost in athleticism has definitely helped.

“This current team is more athletic than the prior few years,” he said. “Our returning starters have two to three years of experience playing varsity minutes and an understanding of the effort needed to compete each night. Our reserves compete and challenge daily in practice.”

Clarion recruit Siara Conley led the way in the win against Beaver Falls with 22 points. The senior has been the Vikings’ leading scorer the past two seasons.

Against Ambridge, sophomore Marlee Mancini led Hopewell with 18 points, and freshman Lauryn Speicher added 10 points.

Other Vikings enjoying good starts include senior Tori Rotuna, junior Mallory Heranic and freshman Ava Miller.

While Hopewell is off to a good start, the Vikings realize life in Section 2-4A is not going to be easy with Blackhawk and Central Valley ranked in the HSSN top five, and Keystone Oaks and Quaker Valley were 4A playoff teams last season.

“Our section traditionally does very well with the teams that qualify for the WPIAL playoffs,” Homziak said. “This season is no different. The teams that have been at the bottom of the section the past few seasons are improved. Every night your team has to be ready to compete because if you do not, anyone can beat you.”

Don Rebel hosts the Rebel Yell podcasts for HSSN.

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