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Riverview girls set for return to higher class

| Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, 7:38 p.m.
Valley News Dispatch
Riverview senior guard Ashley Bruni drives to the hoop during basketball practice at Riverview Jr./Sr. High School on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. Bill Shirley | For the Valley News Dispatch

After an adventurous two-year stint in Class A, Riverview is set for a return to the Class AA ranks of girls basketball.

The world finally has stopped spinning, but the team isn't too concerned with its new surroundings.

“Actually, we're not concerned about the move at all,” Raiders coach Keith Stitt said. “Class AA has more teams and consequently has its share of good and bad teams. You look at the teams we played last year in the North Catholics and Vincentians — Greensburg Central Catholic and those teams are no better than those teams.”

Numbers may dictate where the Raiders play, but experience — or lack thereof — could determine if another historic postseason run is possible.

Last year, Riverview (16-9) put together a laundry list of accomplishments, from its first WPIAL semifinal appearance since 1980, to a rare state playoff appearance.

The Raiders will have to replace three senior starters, including Valley News Dispatch Player of the Year Mary Andrejko, who averaged 21.6 points and scored 1,344 points in her career.

“We still have a chance to be a pretty good team,” Stitt said. “We'll just have to see how the young ones come along. The bottom line is that we're inexperienced.”

True, but not completely.

Senior point guard Ashley Bruni has started since the midway point of her freshman year, and senior 5-10 forward Rene Ault also returns as a third-year starter.

Call that battle-tested duo the foundation.

“We expect them to have big years for us,” Stitt said. “But I can see us starting two sophomores and a freshman with them.”

The sophomores are 5-foot-9 forward Leah Sero and 5-10 guard-forward Bree Patsey, who is coming off a knee injury that cost her much of last season.

The freshman Stitt mentioned could become a household name in the program. Sadie Buchser has received high praise from coaches and teammates. A 5-7 shooting guard, Buchser should make an immediate impact.

“She's going to be a dynamite player,” Stitt said. “She has the potential to be as good or better than some of the best girls we've had come through here.”

Another important player is guard Erin Lauff, another senior leader.

“If things work out, we'll have a lot of depth,” Stitt said. “We're hoping to go seven or eight deep.”

Key reserves look to be senior Kim Botta and 5-10 junior forward Madison Long. A foreign-exchange student, Isabella Gudmundsdottir, also could contribute. The 5-9 senior forward is from Iceland. She first attended Allderdice before moving to Oakmont and transferring to Riverview.

Now in Section 3-AA, the Raiders will face talented teams in Greensburg Central Catholic and Jeannette, along with Shady Side Academy, Springdale and South Allegheny.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-224-2696 or bbeckner@tribweb.com.

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