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Southmoreland girls hoops team optimistic

Tribune-Review
| Wednesday, November 26, 2014 1:48 p.m.
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Lori Padilla | For Trib Total Media
Junior Olivia Porter was an all-section performer as a sophomore and big things are expected of her this season.
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Kelly Vernon | Trib Total Media
Julea Claycomb paced the Scotties in scoring and rebounding in the 2013-2014 season.

When the Southmoreland girls basketball team began practices for the 2014-205 season coach Brian Pritts had a quick word to describe his team.

“Thin,” he said at the time.

As of the team’s second practice Nov. 18, there were just seven girls on the active roster.

“I was hoping for around 10, we have seven,” Pritts said. “We have the seven that I knew would be here. I was hoping for a few others.”

Move the calendar ahead a few days and that number has just about doubled. As of last count, Pritts said the roster number was closing in on 15.

No matter the number, Pritts is going into the season — his third in his second stint as court boss — with optimism. He saw a roster that may not have had quantity at the time, but was loaded in quality in his mind.

“We have seven really good girls, really nice girls that understand the system,” Pritts said of his initial crew. “These girls were all around in the offseason. We’re ahead of the game basketball-wise. We have four girls who were in the starting mix (last season) and they bring back court awareness and court savvy. They’re players, they’re here because they want to play the game. They’re here because they enjoy the game.”

One of the key ingredients to any success that may come the Scotties way is sophomore point guard Olivia Porter, who is often a spark plug on the court.

“She’s very explosive and she does a nice job running the point,” Pritts said of Porter.

Her starting backcourt mate is expected to be senior Brooke Cottom, who also adds point-guard ability and tons of experience as she embarks on her fourth year as a starter.

Another senior on the roster is 5 foot, 11 inch Katrina Lauffer, who has started at multiple positions in the past. Juniors Julea Claycomb and Breanna Bunner add physical presences to the team.

Bunner is in her first year with the basketball program, but is a member of the school’s softball and volleyball teams and contributes athleticism to the cause. Claycomb paced the Scotties in scoring last season with 9.2 points per game and 11 rebounds a contest.

Rounding out the preliminary roster were freshmen Emily Halsted and Carissa Cyphert, who have been with the program each of the last three years, playing in seventh and eighth grade.

“They’re gym rats,” Pritts said of his ninth-grade duo. “They really enjoy the game and they understand the game.”

A key factor no matter the roster will be to stay away from injuries and hope the girls can stay out of foul trouble.

“We have to play smart,” Pritts said. “These are all challenges that we’ve addressed. We’ve talked about the challenges of staying in pretty good shape because we’re going to be playing a lot.”

Pritts has hopeful that more girls would join the team as practices progressed and that seems to be the case. He said many of the current players were working on recruiting some of their colleagues..

“I hope there’s a chance more girls come out (for the team),” Pritts said Nov. 18. “I thought I had a productive meeting with some of the ones that were on the fence. The girls are working on some (other) girls, so hopefully.”

The same trio returns to assist Pritts in Barry Collins, Emily Morrison and Don Lucas.

The Scotties finished 9-12 last season, just missing out on a postseason berth, just two years after winning only one game.

Section 3-AAA looks to have its share of formidable squads again, especially perennial power Indiana. Mt. Pleasant is expected to have a good squad as is Uniontown which sported a young team last season. Other teams in the section are Greensburg Salem, Derry and Yough along with newcomer Laurel Highlands.

The season begins Dec. 5 with the Southmoreland Tip-Off Tournament which also will feature Derry and Yough, as well as Elizabeth Forward.

“We have to be here for each other,” Pritts said. “We’re only as strong as the weakest link in the chain. Our chain is short, but sometimes shorter chains have stronger bonds. We’re going to work to continue to establish that bond and work for each other and see how it goes. I really like what we got. I like this group of kids and I’m excited to see them get out there.”

Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or ppaterra@tribweb.com.

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