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Burrell girls lack numbers, experience

Bill Beckner Jr.

It looks like Burrell girls basketball coach Brian Sharick will have more uniforms than players this season.

“Hey, that’s not a bad thing,” Sharick said with a laugh. “All the girls get two practice jerseys.”

With only 10 players, the Lady Buccaneers will be lucky to have an intrasquad scrimmage. But Sharick, in his third season, plans to build around the players he has and keep the program going in a positive direction.

“It’s a rebuilding year, no doubt,” Sharick said. “We have some major issues, no question. We have very few varsity minutes from the girls coming back and very little varsity experience overall.

“But we’re going to focus on the positives.”

Burrell went 9-10 last season and returns just one full-time starter in senior guard Danielle Konopski.

Sharick said there were more girls committed to the program in previous months, but the roster has dwindled — for various reasons.

“Times are changing, and maybe I’m not,” the coach said. “I am old-school, I guess. I am not going to beg the kids to play.”

Burrell has a nontraditional make-up to its varsity roster — four seniors, five freshmen and one sophomore.

There are no juniors, but due to the low number of players, there also may not be a junior varsity — at least on some nights.

“You look at Valley and what they did last year, having to cancel their JV season,” Sharick said. “We aren’t going to do that. My hope is to never cancel a JV game again. If we do, it’s our last resort.”

Konopski is expected to take on a greater scoring role, operating from the two- or three-guard spot.

The group of freshmen will be led by 5-foot-7 guard Jaila Manga, who is competing for the starting point guard spot.

Manga could be a key player for the Bucs if she can adjust quickly to the pace of the varsity level.

“If anyone can do it, Jaila can,” Sharick said.

Seniors Alli Okopal, Cayley Tatrn and Lauren Jenkins, who returned to the team after taking two years off, also should be key contributors.

Tatrn and Jenkins have some playing experience.

“We’re going to have to manufacture points this year,” Sharick said. “We may have to get a cheap basket here or there.

“I want us to play rock-solid defense. Your defense should be strong night-in and night-out. Even great offensive teams can have bad shooting nights.”

Sharick points to Deer Lakes as a “heavy favorite,” and Ford City as the next-best team in Section 1-AA.


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