Despite youth, Serra girls basketball team remains optimistic for postseason |

Despite youth, Serra girls basketball team remains optimistic for postseason

Ronald Vezzani Jr. | For Trib Total Media
Serra Catholics' Katie Sieg goes for a layup against Bishop Guilfoyle during the second round of the PIAA Class A playoffs on Thursday, March 13, 2014 at Richland.

Recently, the Serra Catholic girls basketball team knew what to expect at the beginning of each season.

That’s not the case this season as the Eagles return only one starter from a team that qualified for the state playoffs. This season will involve more teaching and developing with hopes of returning to the playoffs.

Last season, the Eagles lost to Vincentian Academy, 66-46, in the WPIAL Class A championship. In the state playoffs, the Eagles lost a heartbreaking game against Bishop Guilfoyle, 65-63, in the second round.

The Eagles, who finished 24-4 overall and 10-0 in Section 4-A, will feature senior Katie Sieg and junior Gia Husnick in the backcourt and a pair of freshmen, Olivia D’Andrea and Shannon Sullivan, in the frontcourt.

Junior forward Erin Almeter will contribute by spreading the floor with her jump shots and attacking the glass.

“We got hit pretty hard by graduation. We graduated five seniors in which four were starters and one was the sixth man. The kids were with the program for four years and did a really good job,” said coach Bill Cleary, who lost Megan Sieg, Nicole Pero, Danielle Dindak, Leslie Hoye and Lauren Czerwien to graduation. “We are pretty young, and we are going to go through some growing pains. But we have some really good kids that are working hard and trying to learn the system.”

Cleary hoped junior center Felicia Moon and junior guard Carina Roberts would have significant impacts, but it appears the Eagles will have neither at the beginning of the season. Moon injured a foot, and Roberts is rehabilitating a knee injury.

“You get spoiled when you have a veteran team. You blow the whistle and mention a drill, and they hop right into it. With the young girls, there are a lot of teaching moments,” Cleary said. “It’s a newer way to coach, and it’s fun. You can’t leave anything up for chance. You can’t assume they know the drills. You have to go out and demonstrate.”

The Eagles will stay in Section 4-A but have some different opponents. The Eagles will have section opponents of Jeannette, Clairton, Imani Christian, Ellis School, Trinity Christian and Winchester Thurston.

The change in opponents brings unfamiliarity, but the Eagles remain optimistic about their chances to qualify for the postseason.

“I will have to see where we stack up. I’m hoping we qualify for the postseason,” Cleary said. “We will see how the young kids will develop and play at this level. I’m pretty confident on what to expect from the older girls.”

Andrew John is a freelance writer.

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