Kittanning girls up ante to suit experience
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Kittanning girls basketball coach Janelle Kotyk views full-court pressure and up-tempo play as parts of her team's identity.
The Wildcats strayed from that style a season ago to accommodate an inexperienced group that included just one returning starter and no seniors.
With every one of its starters now a season older and wiser, Kittanning (9-14, 5-5 in Section 1-AAA last winter) is ready to return to fast-paced basketball and increase its win total, Kotyk believes.
“We're working toward it, but we're still in the process of getting into that type of physical shape,” the coach said. “We're not there yet.
“We're working in multiple defenses, and they're still getting the hang of them. Last year, we maybe ran one or two. So we're throwing a lot more at them because of their experience playing together. We're going to see what suits them best and then stick with what works when it's time.”
Junior point guard Emily Knepshield will again coordinate Kittanning's run-and-gun attack. A three-year starter, she led the team in scoring with 14.3 points per game as a sophomore. She also distributed 106 assists and grabbed 139 rebounds.
“It's a different game that we're playing,” Knepshield said when asked how the current up-tempo style compared to what Kittanning did in 2010-11, when it won a section title. “But we're still doing well at it.”
Senior guard Taylor Patterson, a 3-point shooting specialist, returns after averaging 8.2 points per game; she made 50 from behind the arc as a junior.
Senior forward Frankie Religa will continue to operate in and around the paint. She led the team in rebounds with 174 and ranked second in points (8.9 per game).
“We run the ball really well now,” Religa said. “Last year, we weren't as fast, but we've been practicing running and pushing the ball, and we've really improved on that.”
Said Patterson: “Honestly, we (run) more than we do a set offense. It works better for us.”
At 5-foot-8, seniors Cassie Merryman and Kirsten Wolfe are the team's tallest starters. Merryman averaged 5 points and grabbed 99 rebounds a season ago, while Wolfe scored 5.3 and pulled in 100 boards.
When her primary ball-handlers need a break, Kotyk said she might look to sophomores Alaina Thomas and Tiffany Montgomery and freshman Taylar Wolfe. Kotyk emphasized that whoever steps on the court for Kittanning must be ready to run the floor. She's not eager to watch her team's lack of height become a disadvantage in half-court sets.
“Our strength isn't going to be our size, so we're going to need to find ways to really block out and get back and play five-on-five,” Kotyk said.
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-543-1303.
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.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.