Highlands girls looking for improvement after 3-16 campaign |

Highlands girls looking for improvement after 3-16 campaign

Dan Speicher | For Trib Total Media
Highlands sophomore Ashlyn Jonczak practices Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014.

While still young in a chronological sense, the Highlands girls basketball team feels it has enough experience to enter playoff contention this season from Section 1-AAA.

The Golden Rams took their lumps last year, finishing 1-11 in the section, 3-16 overall.

If Highlands is to move up the section ladder, the Golden Rams might credit a neighborly favor.

Highlands trained over the summer with Burrell. Coach Ron Lang wanted to show his Golden Rams how a successful program goes about its business.

The Bucs have gone deep into the WPIAL and PIAA playoffs the past two seasons and are highly touted again for the coming year.

“We were fortunate enough to have open gyms with Burrell,” said Lang, entering his fourth season. “They got to see the (Sydney) Bordonaro girl, the (Natalie) Myers girl and how hard they work. And it rubbed off on these girls.”

“It was a really good experience,” sophomore Ashlyn Jonczak added. “We became friends with them, and we learned everything they do. It was really nice.”

Jonczak and then-freshman Nicole Boda were the team’s leading scorers last year, with Boda averaging 11.4 per game and Jonczak 10.7.

“I think we’ll be a lot better than last year,” Jonczak said. “We put in a lot of work over the summer. We didn’t have a very good record last year, but we think we can win a lot more and work better as a team.”

Out of the top seven players, five are freshmen or sophomores. There’s one junior and a lone senior, Shannon Bernardi, to build around.

Freshmen Renee Cebula and Emily Cochran are expected to start. Nia Thomas is nursing an injury but Lang hopes she will be ready for the start of the regular season Dec. 5 against another neighbor, St. Joseph, in what will be the shortest road trip of the year — practically across the street.

Also expecting to contribute are Kayla Beale and Kaelyn Borowski.

“We’re in a situation now where all five can dribble, all five can shoot,” Lang said.

From nightmarishly low numbers just a few years ago, Highlands is starting to welcome a larger turnout.

“The 10th graders now, we started them as eighth- graders,” Lang said. “We played the fall schedule and played in the Freeport winter league then played about 25 Catholic schools over that winter. They want to play. We’ve got a good seventh grade class and a big and tall eighth grade class.”

Lang expects to dress 10 players for junior varsity games.

He believes Mars and Hampton are teams to beat in the section but expects Knoch to improve and Kittanning to continue playing hard in that school’s final season.

Drew Jonczak will be Lang’s assistant.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.