Young North Hills girls basketball team looks to display growth

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Thursday, December 6, 2018 | 9:30 PM


Last season’s 6-16 record and a 1-9 finish in Section 1-6A might not have been the end result the North Hills girls basketball team had set out to achieve, but that does not mean there weren’t accomplishments.

For a solid chunk of their 2017-18 campaign, the Indians were rolling with a starting five that included a trio of ninth graders. With such a young roster, it was important for coach Lauren Wilmus to season her underclassmen with substantial playing time.

Now, Wilmus and her team are looking forward, and readying themselves to take another step in the right direction.

“We’re excited about this season. The kids are coming in with a good attitude. I thought we had a good offseason this year. We gained a lot of experience last year, so a lot of these girls are now coming in with a year under their belts,” Wilmus said.

“They were pretty young last year, with three freshmen starting and a couple of sophomores playing a lot. It was productive for us, and I think we’re just ready to get started and keep moving here.”

The three returning starters — now sophomores — that compose North Hills’ core are Alexandra Kotwica, Abigail McElhaney and Sydney Ryan. At 5-foot-8, McElhaney is listed as a guard while Kotwica and Ryan both measure in at 5-11 and play both guard and forward. All three create matchup problems for opponents, according to Wilmus.

“All three of them look a lot more comfortable this year, and they look ready to go,” she said.

“They have similar body types, and all three of them are very athletic. It’s nice because they can do a lot of things for us. They can step outside if they need to, if they’re matched up against a bigger opponent. Or, vice versa, they can take it inside if they have a small guard against them. They’re all versatile, and that helps us out in a lot of ways.”

Running the point and distributing the ball for North Hills will be Claire Babicz. The junior has some court experience and, according to her coach, has the savvy and demeanor the position requires.

Filling out the team’s rotation, senior Sarah Taschner and junior Kayla Haile will both see time at guard while junior Savannah Powers adds another experienced presence at the forward position.

“We’re looking at having a group that’s at least seven deep, so we’re seeing what we can do with playing more of a half-court game, probably. If we can push the ball out, that’s awesome, but against some of the teams in our section, it’s not the easiest thing to do,” Wilmus said. “The girls learned a lot last year, so hopefully we can use that and keep things heading in the right direction. Our schedule won’t be easy, but we’re excited to get into the competition.”

North Hills will compete in Section 1-6A with Butler, Fox Chapel, North Allegheny, Norwin, Pine-Richland, Seneca Valley and Shaler.

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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