WCCC women look to repeat as conference champions

From left: Alyssa Smith of Blairsville, Beth Mort of Leechburg, and Shalia Williams of Vista, Calif. walk off the court after putting on their uniform jerseys for a photograph on October 29, 2013 at Westmoreland County Community College in Youngwood.
From left: Alyssa Smith of Blairsville, Beth Mort of Leechburg, and Shalia Williams of Vista, Calif. walk off the court after putting on their uniform jerseys for a photograph on October 29, 2013 at Westmoreland County Community College in Youngwood.
Photo by Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Paul Schofield
| Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Westmoreland County Community College women's basketball coach Scott Hillen has been with the program since it began in 2007.

The team is coming off its best year in the previous seven seasons, finishing 23-5 and winning its second consecutive Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference title.

That's the good news. Now the bad.

WCCC returns only one starter, all-American Danielle Murphy, and top reserve Christina Brletich. So Hillen has his hands full trying to replace his frontcourt. Murphy averaged 17.5 points per game, while Brletich was a role player.

Gone are forwards Hannah Falcsik, Lauren Gross and Kerri Zelenak. Point guard Jasmine Belt also left to concentrate on academics. Falcsik averaged 14.1 points per game.

“Developing an inside game is important,” Hillen said. “Freshmen Devin Larkin (Greensburg Central Catholic) and Kristina Wagner (California) will play important roles on the inside, while Mariah Ward (Monessen) and Alyssa Smith (Blairsville) are the top point guard candidates.

“We're going to be young and inexperienced on the college level. The biggest thing is getting the players to jell and play together as a team. Most of the players are freshmen.”

One pleasant surprise to the squad is Shalia Williams, who transferred to WCCC from a school in San Marcos, Calif. Williams, a 5-foot-9 forward, averaged 7.9 points per game at Palomar College.

“She's going to help,” Hillen said. “We're excited to see how well she plays for us. She could be really good.”

Last year's squad finished with only eight players. Hillen said there are currently 10 on the roster.

“I'd like to have more depth,” Hillen said. “But I'm happy with the squad.”

Paul Schofield is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at pschofield@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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