Girls display talents in Grebb League
I don't know how many folks actually pay attention to the J. Budd Grebb Memorial Summer Basketball League. For the last five years, local boys have been going at it on the asphalt at the Mechanic Street Playground.
In most cases, the league has done wonders for the abilities of some players who were either close to cracking the starting lineup or just there to refine their game.
I highly recommend going to California on a Tuesday or Thursday to check it out. There's some special players participating in the league.
Now, local girls are taking their turn on the court. On Mondays and Wednesdays, the league's Girls' Division takes to the surface.
Having the opportunity to cover the league's opening night and two other game nights, I realize something special is going on.
Monessen great Charel Allen said it best when she said she wished the league were in existance when she was tearing up the WPIAL and Class A.
“I would have loved this,” she said.
It's something that has been needed around here. Some people knock it, but give it a shot. There's a lot of talent on the court when the girls are going at it.
Myself and others were cracking up on the inaugural night as team “jerseys” were handed out. The girls couldn't find scissors fast enough to slice and dice their shirts up to their comfort level.
There's just as much local talent on display on ladies' night as there is on the boys' night.
For example, watching the Tommy Thomas State Farm team play, there's no better floor leadership in the league right now than what Charleroi's Mia Woytovich displays every time she steps on the court.
There hasn't been a player more dominant in the early going than Fredericktown Butcher Shop's Kaitlyn Slagus, a 6-2 forward from Belle Vernon Area. Only entering her junior season, she shows improving footwork under the basket and shows a little bit of touch around the hoop. She can step out and bury a jump shot, too.
The division's top overall pick, Kylie Huffman, is only going to be a freshman at California Area. She's at the 6-foot level, too, and only going to get bigger, strong, and better. She had a breakout game Monday scoring 17 points and grabbing 19 rebounds.
There's no disputing calls, no players arguing with the referees, just girls playing hard.
There's a buzz throughout the court when State Farm's Taylor Kovatch takes the court. She can shake defenders with a crossover and is one of the most tenacious defenders in the league. Did I mention she's about to enter the eighth grade? Yes, she's still in middle school and she's out there playing with the big girls, doing her thing.
The future is bright for the California Area girls with Huffman, Bailey Vig and Ashley Holt (Lagerheads), and Marissa Bitonti (Bitonti's Barristers).
No local team's future may be as bright as Belle Vernon Area's, as the Lady Leps have an impressive 12 girls on Grebb League rosters. Meaghan Murphy, who plays for Bitonti's, could push some of the boys around under the hoop and Bria Rathway (FBS) is showing signs of being a great floor leader. The future is bright indeed for coach Lisa Fairman's program.
I'm shocked there are no Ringgold girls or Frazier girls on rosters. The Lady Rams are in coaching limbo, though, but the Commodores are coming off a playoff appearance and could be section favorites next year.
Oh well, I guess there's always next summer. The league is already successful and appears here to stay. I wouldn't be surprised to see an expansion team, or two, next season. Hats off to the league for making the girls' division happen.
Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-684-2667.