Quaker Valley girls basketball preparing for jump up to Class AAA competition
The Quaker Valley girls basketball team battled through two separate sets of issues last season.
For the first part of the year, the Quakers were missing several starters because of injuries, forcing coach Jim Dudas to work to get the younger players ready to fill in. When those starters returned, the team dealt with some chemistry problems because the team hadn't played as a group.
Through it all, the team went on to win the Section 6-AA championship, leaving Dudas hopeful that the whole experience would have a positive impact on the team this season.
“I would anticipate that it would bode well for this year, understanding the sacrifices you make can lead you to some successes,” he said.
After all the hard work put in last season — which ended with a 61-47 loss to Beaver Falls in the second round of the WPIAL Class AA playoffs — Dudas said the team took things a bit easier in the offseason.
However, the Quakers' road back to the postseason got steeper because of WPIAL realignment.
Under the new realignment, Quaker Valley moved up to Class AAA and will compete in Section 5 with Keystone Oaks, Montour, Moon, South Fayette, South Park and Trinity. Five of those six teams made the WPIAL playoffs last season, with South Park finishing as the Class AAA runner-up.
“We're just going to go out there and play as hard as we can, and I'm certain the kids will be up to the challenge,” Dudas said. “We're not really talking so much about our opponents right now as we are about just trying to get better every day in the gym. But we're all aware we're moving up, and we have to compete at a higher level to compete in the section for playoff position and things of that nature.”
The Quakers lost leading scorer DeAnn Ryan (15.9 points per game) in the offseason, but Dudas expects seniors Sierra Perlik (12.1 ppg) and Rachel Smith (8.6 ppg) to take over the leadership roles for the team.
In addition, Dudas said sophomore Karen Pugh — who will move inside this season after playing at guard in 2011-12 — had a strong beginning to the practice season, and sophomore Kayla Foster should provide some scoring as well.
All told, the team roster contains just two seniors and one junior, but that doesn't change the expectations.
“I'm going to sound like Mike Tomlin a little bit, but the standard is the standard,” Dudas said. “My measurement is by how hard we work and by how hard we compete. The philosophy of the coaching staff is not going to change — that's what we want to accomplish, and it doesn't matter if I have 10 freshmen or 10 seniors. We still want to be the best we can be and work as hard as we can possibly work.”
Dudas said the effort in the first two weeks of practice has been encouraging to that effect. The Quakers will open the season against Ringgold at the Fort Cherry Tip-off Tournament on Dec. 7.
“The teams that go out there and practice in such a fashion that it's game speed (and) game conditions — the more you do that, I think, the better results will come in the game regardless of competition,” Dudas said. “I think we do a lot of that, and I think we're getting better at it every day.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.