Share This Page

Cheswick Christian girls learn chemistry lesson

| Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, 12:11 a.m.
Valley News Dispatch
Senior center Natalie Merola pulls down a rebound during a recent practice at Cheswick Christian Academy. Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch
Valley News Dispatch
Senior Andrew Maust, Coach Todd Rosio and freshman Antione Malloy go over plays during practice at Cheswick Christian Academy in Cheswick on Monday November 19, 2012. Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch

Cheswick Christian Academy's girls basketball team is young, but coach Deric Johnson feels it has the best chemistry in recent years.

“The coaches feel good about how the team is coming together,” Johnson said. “Sometimes with a young team, you learn to work hard and compete, and we are reaching the point where the girls are understanding that.”

Cheswick finished 5-16 last season and 5-10 in the Southwest Christian Athletic Conference, losing in the first round of the playoffs.

Johnson feels this year could be much better.

“I just sense chemistry and an understanding that the girls are learning what they have to do to get better,” Johnson said. “I don't know where it's going to take us, but I know we are going to be more competitive than last year.”

Cheswick returns three starters, including top scorer and rebounder Natalie Merola, a senior center. Merola, who averaged 7 points per game, will be counted on to lead a team that has only two seniors.

“She's been our leader the last couple of years,” Johnson said. “We are counting on her to increase her scoring and work with the other girls in teaching.”

Joining Merola will be sophomore point guard Jacque Willis and junior guard Ariel Festa. Willis will be looked upon to direct the offense. Festa, the best defensive player on the team, according to Johnson, is becoming a more well-rounded offensive player.

The other two starting spots, power forward and wing, are up for grabs.

Battling at the No. 4 spot will be junior Sarah Evans and freshman Cydney Francis. Competing at the wing will be sophomore Alyssa Slancauskas and eighth-grader Alexia Voelker.

SWCAC rules allow eighth-grade players to compete at the varsity level.

Similar to some of the starting lineup, there remains some uncertainty with the bench players.

“There will be an eight- to nine-girl rotation,” Johnson said. “They will get the majority of the minutes and they will keep fighting to finish it.”

D.J. Vasil is a freelance writer.

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.