Quad-A Girls Basketball Preview
by Andrew Heck
Hempfield went 14-0 last season, but they were knocked out of the WPIAL playoffs after just the first round. The Spartans return key players this season with goals of another section title and trip to the playoffs. Leading them will be Monica Burns, a 5’8 senior, who was amongst the WPIAL leading scorers last season averaging just over 18 points per game.
Penn-Trafford also has a top shelf scorer, Maria Palarino. At 5’11, the junior guard averaged 13 points per game last season. The Warriors graduated nine seniors last season which means Palarino will need new girls to step in and play key roles.
Section 2 might be the most competitive section this year in girls Quad A. Gateway returns a number of starters from last season. Running the back court will be Katey Wilson and Jada Epps. Last season Wilson averaged 9.6 points per game, while Epps averaged 8.3 points per game and generated an impressive 56 steals. Morgan Hainsey, a junior forward who averaged 7.3 points per game, will be back battling the boards this season after bringing down 132 rebounds last season. Hainsey also had a team high 36 blocks.
Fox Chapel and Plum each have standout players to watch for this season. For Fox Chapel, Erin Mathias, a 6’3 senior, knows how to get to the hoop, scoring 17.3 points per game last season. Plum has a top scorer of its own in Krista Pietropola. The 6’0 senior averaged 16.8 points per game. Both girls can put up points but it will be the rest of their respective teams that will determine how far each squad can go into the playoffs.
The North Allegheny Tigers were 20-4 last season. This year they return 4 of their 5 starters from last season, which makes them the team to beat in Quad A. The Tigers return their top scorer Abby Gonzales, a 5’8 sophomore, who ran the point as a freshman and averaged 11 points per game. Battling the boards for NA will be 6’2 junior Megan Morningstar (130 rebounds), and 5’10 sophomore Taylor Lake (139 rebounds) who combined for 269 rebounds last season. Taylor Brennan, who had 28 three pointers last season, is one of only three seniors on their young roster. Another threat from beyond the arc will be junior Devvin LaBarge, who made a team high 30 three pointers (37% from 3pt). Sherri McConnell and her team will be tested early on when they host Altoona, Mt. Lebanon, and Chartiers Valley in their tipoff tournament beginning at 6:00 pm on Friday.
The WPIAL final match-up last season was between two Section 4 teams, Bethel Park and Chartiers Valley. Both teams had high expectations for this season, but have been hit hard by injuries to several key returning starters.
With Bethel Park and CV both hampered by injuries, the door is open for Mt. Lebanon to run away with the Section 4 title. During the last five season, the Blue Devils have a combined six WPIAL and PIAA Championships, but last year they came up short in both. Dori Oldaker has a deep senior class that wants to end their careers as champions. Margie McCaffrey, a 5’5 senior, and Madeleine Collins, a 6’1 senior, will control the backcourt. Working down low for the Blue Devils will be Christine Ehland, a 6’1 senior, who averaged close to 12 points per game last season.
Another team to watch out for in Section 4 is Baldwin. Despite going 11-12 last season, the Highlanders took down Latrobe in the playoffs before being knocked out by North Allegheny. Most everyone is back from last year’s team. The three senior guards; Victoria Johnston, Amanda Johnston, and Nicole Corcoran will try to lead their team to the playoffs.
For a Tip-Off Tournament schedule, click here.