Young Greensburg Salem girls basketball looks for playoff return

Friday, November 22, 2019 | 8:52 PM

To reach the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs for the second consecutive season, third-year coach Rick Klimchock must find a scoring punch.

The Golden Lions finished 12-11 last season and ended the campaign with a 51-37 postseason loss to McKeesport.

Gone from that team through graduation is Megan Kallock, who averaged 25 points, and Nikki Mellinger, who averaged 12. Kallock plays at Saint Vincent and Mellinger at Chatham after a semester at West Virginia.

Klimchock, who previously coached at Jeannette, Greensburg Central Catholic and Franklin Regional, is working with a young squad. There are only two seniors and one junior. The remaining players consist of six sophomores and seven freshmen.

But the coach remains his team can challenge for a playoff spot in what he calls the toughest section in the WPIAL.

To prepare for section heavyweights like North Catholic, Freeport and Knoch, the Golden Lions formulated a good schedule starting with the season-opening tournament at home. Greensburg Salem faces Ligonier Valley on Dec. 6 and Derry on Dec. 7.

Other nonsection games include trips to Kiski Area on Dec. 14 and Southmoreland on Dec. 21, the Mt. Pleasant Holiday tournament Dec. 27-28, Monessen on Jan. 29 and Laurel Highlands on Feb. 7.

“North Catholic may be the toughest team in the state,” Klimchock said. “Freeport and Knoch have a lot of players returning, and Indiana has a 6-foot-4 freshman (Eve Fiala) who has an offer from Ohio State. We’re just hoping to be in the top four.”

Klimchock will rely on three returning starters: sophomore point guard Abby Mankins, senior guard Shaleena Garner and sophomore guard Timaia Lewis.

Mankins averaged 10 points and 10 assists. Garner averaged five points and Lewis four.

“We have some girls who can get after it on defense,” Klimchock said. “We’ll be able to pressure teams and score off the breaks.

“The big key will come from the inside game. If we can get scoring out of the post, we’ll be OK.”

Klimchock has high expectations for Sid Kantor, a 6-foot sophomore, Victoria Sarver, a 6-foot junior and Cadence Peters, a 5-8 freshman.

Sophomore guard Carissa Caldwell is a deep shooter, and sophomore guard Kylie Smith is quick as lightning. Freshman Ashley Smith is another quick guard.

“We have a lot of youth in the team,” Klimchock said. “We have to grow as a team. It’s going to be a big step for a lot of them.”

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


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