Mt. Pleasant coach banking on collective team
Mt. Pleasant girls basketball coach Scott Giacobbi watches talented individuals every day at practice.
Once the regular season begins, he hopes they can come together as one very talented team.
“We're trying to ensure that everybody understands what their collective fit needs to be for us to be successful,” Giacobbi said. “We have some really good individual players, but our team's success is going to depend on how well we can put that talent together.”
Three starters return from last season's squad, which finished 17-6 after losing in the first round of the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs.
Senior forwards Casey Zelenak and Jena Szelong, along with sophomore Alexa Szelong, will form the core of Mt. Pleasant's team.
“Casey's been a contributor to our success since she was a freshman,” Giacobbi said. “She's third in a line of sisters who have played for us. She has really grown into the role of team leader this year. She was one of our co-leaders last season on offense and she anchors our interior defense. Casey has just been a solid and very consistent performer for us.”
Giacobbi said Jena Szelong will be counted on to control the boards.
“She really is a very intelligent player for us on the floor,” he said. “Jena makes a lot happen as an offensive rebounder and she is a great performer on the glass defensively. She's one of our best free throw shooters and she gets to the line frequently.”
As a freshman, Alexa Szelong was Mt. Pleasant's point guard and co-scoring leader.
“She's very talented and we relied on her a lot as a freshman,” Giacobbi said. “We're really looking for big things from her. We have a great core to build around and we have some key returning reserves, kids that got a lot of playing time last season.”
Giacobbi said he also expects senior Bria Rogers and juniors Jordan Toohey and Elaina Fearer to see significant playing time.
Last season, the Vikings finished in second place in Section 3-AAA, one game behind Uniontown.
“I think we'll be in the hunt again this year, but our section is really tough,” Giacobbi said. “Uniontown brings back three starters and has other experienced players. They won the section last year and they have been a capable team year in and year out. Indiana is steady and consistent and every game we have with them is a battle. In our section, there will be no nights off. It will be a challenge every night.”
The Vikings open the season against North Hills in the Franklin Regional Tip-off Tournament on Friday.
Dave Stofcheck is a freelance writer.