Latrobe girls move on from notable graduation loss
Latrobe knew the Laura Graytok era would come to an end at some point, much like the boys basketball program begrudgingly anticipated the departure of Austin Butler a couple of years ago.
Graytok, a standout in the Wildcats’ backcourt for four years and a 1,591-point scorer, is now at American University. The girls team is ready to move on with some new faces and a youthful roster, but don’t expect the Wildcats to change gears.
“We have a lot of depth off the bench and a lot of speed,” senior guard Carly Augustine said. “We want to play at 100 miles per hour.”
Three seniors, Augustine, Bethany Havrilla and Kayla White, will be tri-captains for a group loaded with promising freshmen and sophomores.
The roster has one junior: guard-forward Lexi Pynos.
Latrobe drops to Class 5A this season.
“We’re not going to change the way we play,” coach Mark Burkhardt said. “We lost 70 percent of our scoring and 50 percent of our rebounding (forward Mackenzie Markle also graduated). But we have a number of girls ready to step in. I think we’ll be much more balanced.”
Augustine and Havrilla make a quick and patient combo that will set up the offense. White played valuable minutes last year, mainly as the sixth girl.
With the team’s speed, pressure likely will set the tone on many nights.
“We have been working on our defense all summer long,” Burkhardt said. “We averaged about 63 points a game last season. I don’t know if we’ll do that again, but we’ll be working hard on defense, pressing more, trying not to allow that many either.”
Latrobe finished 17-7 and posted its first WPIAL playoff win since 2007 — 44-31 over Shaler — before falling to Bethel Park in the quarterfinals 70-50.
Burkhardt’s bench could stretch 10 deep with potential contributions from sophomore forward Brooke Kokoska, sophomore guard-forward Lexi McNeil, freshman forward Anna Rafferty and sophomore guards Rachel Ridilla, Ava Vitula and Lexi Weatherton.
Ridilla showed she could handle the varsity level last year as a freshman. At 6-foot-1, Rafferty could be a viable replacement in the post for Markle.
“Our seniors last year got us started,” Burkhardt said. “Now the girls here now can follow. We feel we will be competitive every year now.”
Latrobe’s scattered-about section consists of Albert Gallatin, Laurel Highlands, Oakland Catholic, Penn Hills, Penn-Trafford, Uniontown and Woodland Hills.
“Having played in 6A is a bonus for us,” Burkhardt said. “We’re looking forward to see what we can do.”
Bill Beckner is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill at [email protected] or via Twitter @BillBeckner.