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WCCC women look to repeat as conference champions

Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
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.

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WCCC womenCoach: Scott Hillen

2012-13 record: 23-5 overall

Conference: Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference

Top returning players: G Danielle Murphy, So. (17 ppg), F Christina Brletich, So.

Key losses: G Jasmine Belt, F Kerri Zelenak, C Hannah Falcsik, F Lauren Gross.

The buzz: Danielle Murphy, who averaged 17 points per game, was an All-American in 2012-13. … Christina Brletich was a key role player. … Sophomore Shalia Williams transferred from a junior college in San Diego, Calif. … Freshmen Devin Larkin and Kristina Wagner, along with Mariah Ward and Alyssa Smith are expected to play key roles.

Schedule: Nov. 2, at Pitt-Titusville; Nov. 8, WCCA Tip-Off Classic vs. Niagara CC; Nov. 9, WCCA Tip-Off Classic vs. Anne Arundel; Nov. 13, Garrett College (Md.); Nov. 14, Allegany College of Maryland; Nov. 16, at Prince George's Community College; Nov. 21, Penn State-DuBois; Nov. 23, Lakeland Community College; Nov. 26, at Lorain County Community College; Dec. 2, at Penn State Greater Allegheny; Dec. 6-7, at Jamestown, N.Y. Tournament; Dec. 13, Butler County Community College; Jan. 11, CCAC-Allegheny; Jan. 15, at Potomac State College; Jan. 18, CCAC-North; Jan. 19, Lorain County Community College; Jan. 21, at CCAC-South; Jan. 25, at Montgomery College-Maryland; Jan. 29, at CCAC-Allegheny; Feb. 1, at Butler County Community College; Feb. 3, Potomac State College; Feb. 5, at CCAC-North; Feb. 8, Pitt-Titusville; Feb. 10, CCAC-South.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

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 or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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