St. Joseph girls team preparing for tough section slate
TribLIVE Sports Videos
When St. Joseph girls basketball coach Dan Slain labels his team's section the most difficult in Class A “hands down,” he can present a strong case.
But Slain takes his statement a step further.
“It's probably tougher than some double-A sections,” he said.
Slain still has a good argument. St. Joseph competes in Section 2-A with defending WPIAL champion Vincentian Academy and runner-up North Catholic.
Those perennial powerhouses have accounted for five of the last six Class A crowns. Both also have captured at least one WPIAL championship in a larger classification in the last 11 seasons and regularly beat bigger schools.
Slain believes playing in Section 2-A will make St. Joseph a better team in the long run.
“What helps us is, once we get in the playoffs, no one is better than North Catholic or Vincentian, so we're ready,” Slain said.
Slain, 61, has guided St. Joseph to the playoffs in all three of his seasons, including quarterfinal appearances in the last two. With an experienced trio to build around, he hopes to lead the Spartans at least a step further in the playoffs this year.
“Our goal now is to get past the quarters,” Slain said.
St. Joseph returns three starters from a team that finished 14-9 overall and 7-5 in section.
The Spartans will revolve around 6-foot-1 junior forward Mallory Heinle, who averaged 13.5 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game last season. In two years as a starter, Heinle already has collected 517 career points.
“She'll be a go-to player,” Slain said. “Other teams will know that as well. I see her scoring but also setting up other scoring opportunities. She's versatile. We'll take what the defense gives us. She has 3-point range, but she can also post you up inside.”
The other returning starters are junior guard Amanda Klawinski and junior forward Nikki Mielecki.
Klawinski, who has started since she was a freshman, will take over the point guard duties this season. Mielecki was the sixth man as a freshman and became a starter last year.
Others who could earn a starting role or be a key reserve include senior guard/forward Heather Schrecengost, junior guards Brooke Arabia and Erica Mendel, junior forward Maria Castello, and sophomore guards Mallory Boggess and Julie Hetu.
Schrecengost is the lone senior on the roster.
Arabia and Boggess transferred from Evangel Heights Christian Academy and Riverview, respectively.
St. Joseph graduated two starters who will be missed. Point guard Shayna Panchik averaged 10.1 points and 3.8 assists, while shooting guard Rachel Edwards was the team's primary 3-point specialist.
Riverview, one of St. Joseph's top rivals, was realigned into Class AA. Meanwhile, Imani Christian, a first-year program, was added to Section 2-A.
Paul Kogut is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com 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.