Senior Antone hopes to lead Kiski Area girls back to playoffs
New coach Nick Ionadi knows Kiski Area's girls basketball team can score points. Other areas, he believes, will be what separates his team from the rest.
“We have a versatile group,” said Ionadi, a former Kiski Area assistant under Aaron Epps, who resigned after one season. “Defense and rebounding is where we'll make our mark.”
Coming off a 16-7 season that ended with a first-round playoff loss to Baldwin, the Cavaliers, ranked No. 9 in Class AAAA by Trib Total Media, hope size and physical play produces results.
Fourth-year starter Maddie Antone returns for her senior season. Antone is one of the WPIAL's top post players and Ionadi will look to build around the 5-foot-10 forward.
“I know I am biased, but I think she is the best player in the section,” Ionadi said. “Maddie goes a million miles an hour all the time. She doesn't have an off switch. The other girls feed off of that.”
Antone, who could see more time away from the basket and shoot more from the perimeter, averaged 17 points and 11 rebounds last season. She has scored 979 career points.
Although Antone can make game-changing plays, she'll need help. Guard Makenzie Zidek (17.9 ppg) had an important scoring role last season, but she graduated.
Antone has plenty of experience, and she brings leadership.
“I have felt like a senior when I was a freshman,” Antone said. “I am really excited for this season. It's our team; it's not my team.”
Senior Taylor Muffie returns after not playing basketball last year. She will assume a key role at point guard.
“Taylor can shoot and handle the ball, and she plays great defense,” Ionadi said. “We're going to need some time. We have some new faces coming back.”
Ionadi expects the other starters to be seniors Megan Majersky, Rachel Weyant and 5-10 Kaylie Dilts. He anticipates getting valuable minutes from senior Stephanie Sikora, sophomore Channing James and junior Anyssa Sanchez.
Freshman Alexis Trkula also could see time.
Ionadi also is intrigued by the potential of James, a 6-foot-3 center who transferred from Highlands. She could be the perfect complementary post player to Antone.
A pair of former starters have been hampered by injuries and might not be able to help the team until later in the season, if at all.
Two-year starter Tara Stolarski, a 5-11 senior forward, is out with a knee injury she suffered last season. Lindsay Weiser, a 5-5 senior guard, could be done for the season with a foot injury.
“They will be serving as two of our four captains this year because of their character and how hard they work,” Ionadi said.
The other captains are Antone and Muffie.
Ionadi also hopes to build consistency in the program. He will be the seniors' third different head coach.
“He seems like a coach who's here to stay,” Antone said. “We're a whole new team.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-224-2696 or firstname.lastname@example.org.