Seton-La Salle girls basketball team hopes to duplicate state-championship season
TribLIVE Sports Videos
More than a month had passed since Dennis Squeglia resigned as Seton-La Salle's girls basketball coach, after an undefeated season capped by a PIAA championship.
The Rebels were sitting in the school library when they were told to look toward the door for Squeglia's successor.
Expecting someone to make a grand entrance, they instead got a smile and a wave from athletic director John Ashalou.
Seton-La Salle returns all but one starter from a team that went 30-0, but the Rebels' biggest challenge might be developing the chemistry to duplicate the feat.
“The change of head coach was definitely a lot for our team to cope with, because (Squeglia) was such a good coach,” said senior guard Angela Heintz, a Duquesne recruit. “(Ashalou's) really knowledgeable about the game and has a lot of basketball experience.”
Ashalou only has himself to blame for an ambitious schedule that has the Rebels playing a pair of PIAA runners-up, North Catholic and Oakland Catholic, followed by WPIAL Class AAAA champion Mt. Lebanon and traditional power Villa Maria Academy in the first week of the season.
“I was just the athletic director when I put it together,” Ashalou said. “Now, as AD and coach, I'm wondering what I was thinking.
“You think, ‘Yeah, we're ready for it.' Now, we've got some new girls in the program. We've got to get them to buy in to fit as a team. It is an arduous schedule, so to say.”
“Dennis did a great job and is a great coach. He went 30-0, and a lot of people ask me, ‘How do you do better than that?' I'd rather coach a team with expectations than not.”
If the Rebels can survive that, they are the odds-on favorite to repeat as WPIAL and PIAA champions, if not break the WPIAL record of 56 consecutive victories set by North Catholic from 1987-89.
Seton-La Salle returns starters in Heintz, 6-2 senior center Natalie Piagessi, 6-foot junior forward Naje Gibson and sophomore point guard Cassidy Walsh, as well as senior forward Katherine Hart and sophomore shooting guard Nicolette Newman. The Rebels added 6-2 sophomore Morgan Henderson, a transfer from Texas, and are awaiting an eligibility ruling on talented 5-9 junior Yacine Diop, a Senegal native who transferred from Oak Hill Academy.
“It's really harder for us this year because there's a lot more pressure on us,” Heintz said.
“Last year, we lost six seniors from the year before and there weren't the expectations. This year, everybody wants to beat us, to be the team that gives us that loss.”
Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7812.
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.