Numbers are concern for Valley girls basketball
The Valley girls basketball team will be getting quality this year — but it won't be because of quantity.
With only 10 girls on the team, fourth-year coach Jeff Cheatham won't have much depth and no junior varsity team.
But Cheatham believes the team can be a contender with barely enough bodies to hold an intrasquad scrimmage.
“I'm excited about the season,” Cheatham said. “We'll see what happens, if we can get them all rolling and playing together.”
Valley finished 1-9 in section play last season, 4-14 overall, to miss the playoffs for the eighth time in the past nine seasons.
Returning for the Vikings after a one-year absence is junior Lashay Madison, who averaged nearly 16 points per game as a freshman before attending McKeesport High School for part of last year.
She'll be joined by 6-foot sophomore Kaylyn Iacopino, who is poised to become one of the top frontcourt players in the Alle-Kiski Valley.
“Lashay will be playing a point guard and Kaylyn inside, that's really going to help us a lot,” Cheatham said. “I think both of them have the potential to play college ball, if they work at it.”
One key graduate Valley has to replace is Ryleesha Vining, who averaged a team-best 13 points last season.
“It's easy when you have a very good point guard,' Cheatham said. “I really enjoyed coaching her. We'll definitely miss her.”
A number of newcomers will populate the Valley roster.
“It's like Basketball 101,” Cheatham said, with a laugh. “We really don't have a youth program here at Valley. We have to try and form one. We don't have a summer program.“
The junior high program has returned to the school district after a one-year hiatus.
The Vikings will open the season with a Section 1-AAA game at Mars on Dec. 13, giving Cheatham an extra week to work with his team.
“The main thing is that we have to get these girls to learn how to win and we have to get parenting to push these girls in the right direction,” Cheatham added. “We have a lot of new people in our community who don't know anything about the history of Valley High School — the Marissa Smiths, the B.B. Flenorys, the Willie Throwers.”
George Guido is a freelance writer.