Sylba returns to head coaching as Freeport girls brace for Class AAA
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Paul Sylba has returned to the head coaching ranks after three relatively quiet seasons as an assistant and will help the Freeport girls take on arguably their greatest challenge in recent years — a jump from Class AA to AAA.
Sylba, 54, guided the Riverview girls for nine seasons before serving as an assistant at Kiski Area for two years and Freeport last season. He's excited about the battles awaiting the Yellowjackets.
“If we can stay healthy and injury-free, I think we'll compete,” Sylba said. “Do we have the firepower to match up? You never know. We'll see. We have to play our ‘A' game all of the time.”
Last season, Freeport finished with a 10-12 record, including 7-7 in Section 1-AA, and lost in the preliminary round of the WPIAL playoffs.
After the PIAA enrollment-based realignment, Freeport resides in Section 1-AAA with Hampton, Highlands, Kittanning, Knoch, Mars and Valley. The Yellowjackets are familiar with many of those teams. They defeated Highlands and Valley and lost to Kittanning and Knoch in nonsection play last season.
The last time the Freeport girls were members of Class AAA was in the early '90s.
Sylba was hired in April to replace Bill Burkart, who was head coach for five seasons before the school district opened his position.
Sylba welcomed back three starters, including one of the Alle-Kiski Valley's top frontcourt players — senior Jessica Aulicino. The 6-foot center/forward averaged 14.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game last season.
“She's about as complete a basketball player as we have,” Sylba said. “She's a good leader. She brings a hard-nosed demeanor. Inside the lines, she's very aggressive.”
The other returning regulars are junior forward Michaela Bowser and sophomore guard/forward Macy Smolic.
Sophomore Haley Connors is the likely starter at point guard, but senior Nicole Miller could challenge for that role.
Other players competing for starting spots or significant time off the bench include senior guard Alicia Grabiec, twin junior guards Dava and Erica Jack, and junior guard/forward Carly VanTine.
Sylba envisions a more up-tempo style of play.
“We have a lot of girls with good quickness,” he said. “I'd like to utilize that and move the ball up and down the court. I think we can go eight or nine deep. I think, last year, they were more of a set-it-up team (on offense). We can still use that at times. I think we'll also use more man-to-man defense, as opposed to zone.”
Paul Kogut is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-224-2696.
Show commenting policy
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.
- Pirates analyst Kent Tekulve recovering after heart transplant
- New approach on offense has Pirates in playoff contention this season
- Steelers veteran defenders want young teammates to step up
- Pitt coach refutes Wannstedt’s opinion that Chryst, university leaders aren’t on same page
- Jury acquits Ford of assaulting police, deadlocks on other counts
- Steelers’ Brown combats disruptive defensive ploys
- Gorman: QV, SA runners are friendly rivals
- Gunman who shot 2 Pennsylvania troopers used rifle, may have had training, authorities say
- High school roundup: Penn-Trafford girls continue winning run
- Steelers not receiving big returns on their offseason investments
- Peters Township thriving with help from sibling pairs, including star twins