New era begins for Hampton girls basketball |

New era begins for Hampton girls basketball

Devon Moore
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Hampton girls basketball coach Tony Howard talks to his team during a scrimmage game against North Hills Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018 at Hampton.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Hampton’s Kayla Hoehler competes during a scrimmage game against North Hills Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018 at Hampton.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Hampton’s Amanda Moser competes during a scrimmage against North Hills Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018, at Hampton.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Hampton’s Katie Baker (left) and North Hills’ Savannah Powers compete during a scrimmage game Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018 at Hampton.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Hampton’s Maddie Stevens competes during a scrimmage game against North Hills Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018 at Hampton.

It might be Tony Howard’s fourth year at the helm of Hampton girls basketball, but it will be a year of firsts.

Starting in 2015, he inherited a talented team and took the Talbots on an impressive three-year run. The team went 62-16 (33-3 in section), capturing three section titles and two state playoff berths.

Laryn Edwards (Loyola, Md.), Ali Collins (Seton Hill) and Brooke Fuller (Waynesburg) graduated, along with three other seniors Howard estimates accounted for more than 90 percent of the team’s scoring.

“Obviously, when you graduate three girls going to play college basketball and then three other seniors, that’s going to take up a lot of your court time,” Howard said.

Though Howard admits it is a rebuilding year for Hampton, he couldn’t be more pleased with the early returns.

“It may have been the best two weeks I’ve had here,” he said of preseason practice.

“They’re just real energetic and open to coaching. They’ve made great strides and want to learn. A lot of it is just going to come down to experience. We’re so young.”

Senior Maddie Stevens is the lone returning senior with experience and will be needed in the low post with the graduation of Fuller. Senior Amanda Moser, a key player in leading the girls soccer team to a state playoff berth this fall, returns to the fold after a two-year absence.

Sophomore Olivia Bianco will run the point. Her ability to earn playing time as a freshman on a senior-laden team last year showed her ability.

“She started the second half of the season as a two guard last year,” Howard said. “She’ll be running stuff on our end as point guard.”

The year Howard started, he started two young, talented guards in Edwards and Collins. He can only hope that same success eventually replicates down the road for freshmen Sophie Kelly and Kayla Hoehler.

“They are going to get thrown in the mix off the bat,” Howard said. “They’ve shown their ability to score with the basketball. We can’t expect them to come in and do what Ali and Laryn did, but potentially we hope to build with them.”

Sophomore Kate Schmitt also saw time last year but is battling a knee injury and hopes to return soon. Juniors Katie Baker and Kayla Januck will look to help down low, and sophomore Cass Reinert will see time at the three guard.

With all the new faces and no established go-to scoring threats, Howard is preaching a holistic team approach with his philosophy, though a lot of the overall strategy — move the ball and play fast — will remain the same.

“We’re giving our girls the same concepts,” Howard said. “But we’re instilling to really use five girls on the court, read the play instead of physically or athletically making the play work. We have to play more team concepts.”

One first Howard is hoping to avoid will be missing the playoffs as a coach for the Talbots. Hampton will have its work cut out for it. The team’s section (2-5A) includes the reigning state champs and rival Mars, as well as a newcomer in Gateway, which won the WPIAL title last season.

Devon Moore 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.