Young Hempfield girls looking for consistency after covid shutdowns a year ago

Saturday, November 27, 2021 | 1:13 PM

Consistency is not a word you would associate with last year’s Hempfield girls basketball team.

One of the programs truly affected by covid-19, the Spartans endured three shutdowns and went 31 days between their first and second section games.

They had 13 postponements.

“Just when we would get going again, we’d have to start over again,” coach Tom Brush said. “We literally started from scratch three times.”

Hempfield only played 13 games — six in section — and finished 4-9 (1-5).

With more continuity ahead, the Spartans are looking to make a push for another playoff berth in Section 3-6A.

They fell to Butler, 48-36, in the first round last year.

Two starters were set to return in junior Brooke McCoy and senior Capri DeCaro, but DeCaro suffered a season-ending knee injury in the team’s first summer league game. She would have been the starting point guard.

Now, McCoy’s role, already important enough, will be elevated. The 5-foot-9 swing-forward averaged 11 points per game.

“We have a lot of young players looking to contribute,” McCoy said. “It’s going to be a really fun challenge. We’re looking for some other players to take some of the heat off. It’s going to be a team effort.”

Brush said McCoy will be the go-to scorer but she can’t go it alone.

“She brings a ton of experience,” he said. “We know teams are going to key on her.”

Sophomores Ashley Hosni and Sarah Podkul are in line to take over at the point.

“They saw a lot of time as freshmen and had a good offseason,” Brush said. “They should jump right in. They don’t back down from anyone.”

That will be a theme with this team.

“We’ll probably be the smallest team in the section,” Brush said. “We’re stressing we want the girls to play extremely hard for the entire game.

“They’ll have to play a lot bigger than they are.”

You mean like Emma Hoffner last season, coach?

“Emma played against some giants and held her own,” Brush said.

Hoffner graduated and is playing softball at Ohio. “Emma had a lot of grit,” McCoy said. “We learned a lot from her.”

Senior Alexis Hainesworth also will play a key role after seeing time as the sixth girl last season, while senior guard Phoebe Snyder also will give to the backcourt cause.

A freshman to watch is 5-9 Mia Shipman, who should blend into the rotation.

The Spartans will play Connellsville and Franklin Regional on the opening weekend of the season at the Laurel Highlands tournament at Penn State Fayette.

Brush’s daughter, Angelina, is a sophomore point guard at Franklin Regional.

Hempfield girls at a glance

Coach: Tom Brush

Last year’s record: 4-9 (1-5 Section 2-6A)

Returning starter: Brooke McCoy (Jr., G/F)

Top newcomers: Alexis Hainesworth (Sr., G), Ashley Hosni (So., G), Sarah Podkul (So., G), Mia Shipman (Fr., G), Phoebe Snyder (Sr., G)

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .


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