Local teams get back on the hardwood
Hopefully everyone has caught their breath from a busy football season, because winter sports in Mon Valley high schools have officially begun.
That means it was time for area boys and girls basketball teams to hit the hardwood, officially, for their first practices of the season.
“We didn't have many open gyms throughout the summer,” California Area coach Phil Pergola said. “I wanted the team to bide their time.”
Pergola, the dean of area coaches, is beginning his 43rd season as a head coach.
“Today was all right,” the coaching veteran said. “We're low in our numbers, but the kids were eager to get started.”
After WPIAL realigned conferences, California remained in Section 5-AA with familiar foes Frazier, Bentworth and Charleroi. Two new members, Jefferson-Morgan and West Greene, were added to the section, which Charleroi coach Bill Wiltz wasn't too upset about.
“Jeff-Morgan and West Greene came in and Greensburg Central Catholic and Jeannette went out,” Wiltz said with a laugh. “I'm not real sad to see them go. I think it gives us a real good shot.”
Wiltz said he was pleased with the Cougars' first practice Friday.
“I'll tell you what, I think we're going to be all right,” he said. “It went pretty good today. We don't have a lot of size and we don't have as many kids as I'd like, but we don't have any kids that can't play. Depth is going to be a good thing for us this year.”
Ringgold, Belle Vernon Area, and Elizabeth Forward are back together again in Section 4-AAA with Yough in 3-AAA.
After six years in the Class AA ranks, Monessen has dropped down to Class A's Section 3 with Avella, Carmichaels, Clairton, Geibel and Mapletown.
“We've moved down but our expectations haven't changed,” Greyhounds coach Joe Salvino said. “We're going to work hard and try to win a section title.”
Salvino said he had some pleasant surprises at his team's first practice.
“Justice Rawlins was injured last season, so it was nice to see him on the court,” Salvino said. “Clintell Gillaspie, who's a great athlete and Kayne Jackson participated.
“It was more like tryouts today. We had 22 kids show up today so I was pleased with where our numbers were.”
Ringgold and Belle Vernon Area also returned to practice Friday.
The Leopards, guided by second-year head coach Eric James, finished with only three wins last season (3-19), but finished strong winning two of their last four games.
The Rams will look to rebound after finishing 5-17 last season.
On the girls' side, Joe Grodz begins his first season as the Charleroi girls coach. He filled in last season for former coach Nick Mahalko who missed a few games for health reasons.
“If anyone was in the right place at the right time … I was put in a great situation,” Grodz said. “From the first time I met Nick eight years ago and he asked if I wanted to be his assistant, it seemed like he was grooming me and that this program would one day be mine. I'm honored to be able to continue the tradition here.”
Grodz said the number of players out for the team are exactly where he expected them to be.
“We were able to get together a lot over the summer,” Grodz said. “We knew who were would have here and the girls know what to expect from me as their coach. They know I'm going to work them and force them to develop as players and as a team.”
Grodz pointed out a bright spot that he saw at his team's first workout.
“Mia Woytovich is going to be a great leader this season. She's going to be a great asset,” Grodz said. “I could tell by just watching her work today with some of the younger kids. She'll definitely be a leader on the floor for our team.”
The Monessen Lady Greyhounds, led by coach Gina Naccarato finished 20-4 last season and are arguably the favorites in Section 4-A.
“I was very pleased with how practice went,” Naccarato said. “We have Mariah Ward and Chelsea Szakal back and we have some experience even with the loss of four seniors from last year. That will help offset the amount of youth we have.”
Belle Vernon Area returns to practice with both Jessica and Kaitlyn Slagus returning to lead a talented group of underclassmen in Section 4-AAA. The Lady Leps were defeated by Class AAA Champion Hopewell in the first round last season.
The Ringgold Lady Rams will look to improve on their 7-13 mark last season in 2012.
Local wrestling and swimming teams also began their practices Friday.
Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2667 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.
- Donora man to stand trial on drug charges
- Charges tossed in North Charleroi arson attempt case
- Talkative Rostraver murder suspect faces trial
- Connellsville woman’s charges withdrawn in drug case
- Wounded Afghanistan vet to speak at Mon Valley Hospital wellness series
- Bentworth to graduate 86
- Yough Senior High School names top graduates
- Former Charleroi woman saw devastation of storms in Dallas
- Frazier High School names Class of 2015 top students
- Properties for sale in Monessen
- Adventures still plentiful for Bellmar graduate Carol Nesti Riley in Virginia