Yough girls look to build on last year’s success

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Monday, December 6, 2021 | 5:53 PM


When Mike Gerdich took over the girls basketball program at Yough in 2017, he inherited a team that won one game and hadn’t won a section game in five seasons.

And while the section losing streak extended to 99 consecutive games before it ended with a victory against Ligonier Valley on Jan. 23, 2021, the fifth-year coach is beginning to see progress.

Yough was 4-10 overall last season and 2-6 in Section 3-4A. Both section wins came against Ligonier Valley.

It was the team’s most wins since the 2013 season, when they went 7-15.

“A number of the girls now (are) understanding that you don’t show up in November and expect to be ready for the season,” Gerdich said. “Many of them played AAU in the summer.”

The Cougars return five lettermen from last year’s squad. They are seniors Kayla Gerdich and Makayla Dixon, juniors Laney Gerdich and Mikahla Chewing and sophomore Autumn Matthews. Laney and Kayla are Gerdich’s daughters.

Laney Gerdich is a 6-foot center who averaged 12 points. Chewing averaged 10.

Gerdich also expects contributions from junior Alexis Wieland and freshmen Hailey Bock and Brooke Wieland. He has other freshmen he hopes continue to grow and could help later in the season.

“We took some steps in the right direction last year,” Gerdich said. “The biggest difference is the girls are starting to get it.

“We’ll surprise some people this season. This group has accepted the challenge. We’re playing faster, and we have the ability to hit from the outside.”

Being able to work inside-outside could open up the lane for Gerdich’s daughter Laney. She will try to use her size to dominate.

The biggest challenge facing Yough is a section that includes Southmoreland, Mt. Pleasant, Belle Vernon, Elizabeth Forward, West Mifflin and Ligonier Valley.

“Every section game will be tough, but I’m confident we’ll be competitive,” Gerdich said. “We’ll be a lot better defensively. We’ll mix man-to-man and zone during a game.”

Yough will open the season Friday at the Southmoreland Tip-off Tournament. The Cougars face West Greene in the first game at 6 p.m. and then play Albert Gallatin at noon on Dec. 11.

Yough girls at a glance

Coach: Mike Gerdich

Last year’s record: 4-10 (2-6 Section 3-4A)

Returning starters: Laney Gerdich (Jr., F/C), Mikahla Chewing (Jr., G), Autumn Matthews (So., G/F), Makayla Dixon (Sr., G), Kayla Gerdich (Sr., G)

Top newcomers: Alexis Wieland (Jr., G/F), Hailey Bock (Fr., F), Brooke Wieland (Fr., G)

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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