Despite graduating four significant contributors from last season’s section title team, Elizabeth Forward first-year girls basketball coach Krystal Gibbs doesn’t expect anything to change when it comes to the Warriors’ on-court persona.
“We’re going to be in your face all over the court,” Gibbs said. “You know the old saying, ‘Offense wins games, defense wins championships?’ Well, that’s going to be us. We’re going to win with our defense.”
Gibbs, who was an assistant coach for former coach Sam Kosanovich for the past three seasons, said the team may not be as deep as the last year’s, and that the departures of Kylie Owoc, Natalie Fekula, Alison Pastore and Andrea Paterra from last year’s 22-5 team will hurt the offense.
Gibbs is confident senior point guard Abigail Sporio will spearhead a stout Warriors defense.
“Abigail is the best defensive player that I’ve seen, ever. I even played with (McKeesport’s) Swin Cash in high school, but Abigail is the best,” Gibbs said. “She picks your pocket before you even notice, and you wouldn’t even know how she did it.”
Another senior Gibbs expects to see lead Elizabeth Forward is forward Olivia Barkley, who averaged 12.2 points last season. Barkley (5-foot-7) is expected to see time at guard and forward throughout the season.
“She’ll be our glue player. She started last year and a little bit in the season before that,” Gibbs said. “Last year, she played more of a power forward position. This year, she’ll move outside and play a small forward position. We want her to keep rebounding, but we’ll ask her to penetrate more. Even though she’s smaller, she plays like she is 6 feet tall.”
Seniors Jessica Palady, Sarah Lavelle and Breaonna Brinson will play a prominent role for the Warriors on offense and defense.
“Each of them bring a unique quality to the team. They provide leadership,” Gibbs said. “I think these five senior captains will be able to fill the void left from last year’s seniors.”
“We also have a 6-1 junior who wasn’t able to play the past few seasons. Justice Mitchell had a concussion last season and a torn ACL the year before, but I’m really looking for big things out of her. She can be great for us.”
Backup guards Alexis Corenoski and Lauren Cain will get playing time in Elizabeth Forward’s rotation.
The Warriors’ season will tip off against Connellsville at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 at home.
Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.