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Greensburg Salem boys under new leadership for 2018-19 season

Andrew John
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Michael Swensen | Tribune-Review
Greensburg Salem’s no. 20 Jack Oberdorf takes an attempt at three points in the first half of the game against Laurel Highlands on Tuesday, December 19, 2017.

Mark Zahorchak has taken over as head coach of the Greensburg Salem girls basketball team this season as the Golden Lions look to continue what former coach Craig Mankins developed over the previous six years.

Zahorchak, a 1988 Greensburg Salem graduate, coached the freshman team and was an assistant football coach in the past.

Mankins went 48-87 in his tenure, with three WPIAL playoff appearances.

The Golden Lions also have to replace standout guard Marvel McGowan, who averaged 24 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists during his senior season. McGowan, who was a Terrific 10 selection last season, finished with 1,225 career points.

“We will have a lot of guys that are varsity-level players, so we’ll be able to replace the production lost from one person,” Zahorchak said. “We don’t need somebody to score 22 or 23 points a game. We can spread that scoring out and still be as productive offensively.”

Zahorchak plans to put the best starting five on the floor depending on the makeup of the opponent.

He will lean on his senior class for leadership, including guards Jack Oberdorf, Noah Sweeney and Trent Stevens, as well as forward Reid Amundson.

The Golden Lions also will look for contributions from junior guards Jeff Mankins, Dante Parsons, Ryan Thomas, Cavan Trout and Zach Galdo.

Sophomore guards Christian McGowan and Cade Cavanaugh will seek an expanded role this season.

“We’re trying to bring Greensburg Salem back to a consistent playoff participant that can challenge and make a run at the ultimate goal, which is to win a championship,” Zahorchak said.

Zahorchak believes the combination of his motion offense and the amount of experience coming back from last year’s roster will hopefully soften the loss of McGowan.

“The system we’re running gets a lot of players involved. A lot of people are getting touches and open for shots so the scoring won’t be very difficult,” Zahorchak said.

Greensburg Salem finished 12-11 overall in 2017-18 and 3-7 in Section 3-5A. The Golden Lions’ season came to a close after a 61-52 loss to Trinity in the first round of the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs.

This season, the Golden Lions will play in Section 1-5A with Penn Hills, Woodland Hills, McKeesport, Gateway, Albert Gallatin and Laurel Highlands. All those teams qualified for the WPIAL playoffs last season. Penn Hills is the defending WPIAL Class 6A champion.

“We’re going to be a tough out for anyone who comes into our place and when we travel. The kids have a good feeling. We’ve had a great attitude and great preseason workouts,” Zahorchak said.

“These kids are very coachable and nice kids but tough and athletic kids. We can shoot the ball well, which can keep us in games.”

The Golden Lions tip off their season against the host team at the Hempfield tournament at 8:30 p.m. Dec. 7.

Andrew John is a freelance writer.

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