Young, tall team returns for Greensburg Central Catholic girls basketball

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Thursday, November 26, 2020 | 9:47 AM


Perspective is a trigger word this season around the Greensburg Central Catholic girls basketball program.

Third-year coach Sam Salih, who works as a behavior specialist, has used Zoom meetings and team gatherings to help guide his players through the country’s turbulent times.

With uncertainty surrounding this season, the coach has used time with his team for real talk. Zone defenses and post plays can wait.

“I have done more teaching from a social perspective than I have my whole career,” Salih said. “I am trying to help the girls to understand what the world is going to be like for them. It’s about enlightening them.”

Salih is not out to force an agenda on his players. He simply wants to open a dialogue to make sure the most important, glaring topics are not ignored.

“I think there is an uptick with young people wanting to know and learn,” he said. “They keep tabs on the pulse of the nation. They want to be our future leaders.”

Salih has talked with the team about racial issues and their heritage, the polarizing election, economics, the global pandemic and other social issues. Oh, and basketball.

“It’s about how these girls respond to things they come across in life,” he said. “How they respond to a missed shot, a turnover, an air ball, whatever.”

GCC, which is aiming for 21 straight WPIAL playoff appearances, tied Clairton for the Section 3-A title last season but lost to California, 36-35, in the first round of the playoffs. Only four seniors are gone from that team, but GCC will be without a senior this season.

Salih will be looking at one of his tallest teams.

Junior standout Bailey Kuhns, who transferred last season from Southmoreland, returns with the hope of playing a full season. She was not eligible for the playoffs last year.

The 6-foot Kuhns, who plays center in AAU but could be a guard or forward in different situations for the Centurions, has multiple Division II scholarship offers and is beginning to draw interest from Ivy League schools.

“Bailey has really become a part of our family,” Salih said. “She is fully entrenched with our other juniors.”

Juniors Laura Kondas (5-11) and Emma Riley (5-9) also return as starters, along with junior point guard Megan Zambruno.

“What’s unique about our program is that we don’t have a lot of basketball-only girls,” Salih said. “We share athletes and have gotten used to it. We have a lot of juniors, but they have played a lot.”

Sophomore Liz Dlugos (6-2) also brings size and strength to the post, and freshman Mya Morgan, a transfer from Norwin, could boost the backcourt.

Juniors Maddie Pisula, Natalie Ward and Molly White also figure into the rotation.

“We hope to play eight to 10 kids,” Salih said. “We want to play uptempo, press and run. But with our size, we’ll be willing to slow it down.”

GCC moves into Class 2A this season and will play in a section with Apollo-Ridge, Ellis School, Jeannette, Springdale, and Winchester Thurston.

A fluid schedule already has seen postponements and cancellations. GCC is supposed to open the season Dec. 12 at Greensburg Salem.

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

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