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Sewickley Academy girls return two starters for rebuilding campaign

| Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 8:51 p.m.
Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Academy's Mackenzie Coles tries to get around teammates during a practice drill at the school Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Academy's Maddy Gasale tries to get around a teammate during a practice drill at the school Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Academy girls basketball coach Allen Vaccarelli talks to his players during practice at the school Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Academy's Rylee Vaccarelli looks for an open teammate during a practice drill at the school Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Academy's Mackenzie Pryor tries to get around teammates during a practice drill at the school Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Academy's Katelyn Ripple looks for an open teammate during a practice drill at the school Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald

With only two returning starters, the Sewickley Academy girls basketball team is rebuilding this year.

The Panthers have two scrimmages before meeting host and archrival Shady Side Academy at the Shady Side Academy Tip-Off Tournament on Dec. 7.

Sewickley Academy lost seven players to graduation, as well as a girl who decided not to return this season.

Most players are freshmen and sophomores. There is only one senior.

Coach Allen Vaccarelli has modest expectations.

“We are working hard in the gym to better our team as a whole,” he said. “Our goal is to work hard and get better with each practice.

“If we are better today than we were yesterday, then we are heading in the right direction.”

Point guard Haylee “Nudge” Vaccarelli, the coach's daughter, was among the players lost. A four-year starter, she led the team in assists and steals and was second in scoring and third in rebounding last year.

Rachel Pregel, the Panthers' leading scorer, also graduated. Pregel was second in rebounding and steals a year ago.

Junior forward Katelyn Ripple and senior guard-forward Amanda Nocera are top returnees. The team's leading rebounder, Ripple, averaged eight rebounds and five points per game last season.

Nocera averaged five points and four rebounds a game.

Juniors Mackenzie Pryor and Amanda McCleod and sophomore Riley Roberts are returning letter winners.

Ripple, 16, looks forward to encouraging younger players.

“We have some really good freshmen coming up,” she said. “I want to show them maneuvers and help them as much as I can.”

Sewickley Academy (9-12 overall) finished sixth in WPIAL Section 1-A last year with a 4-8 record.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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