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BVA girls hoping for more than an encore season

| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Belle Vernon Area's Jessica Slagus, who is closing in on 1,000 career points, is attracting lots of college attention. Paul Saunders photo

During her first season as Belle Vernon Area girls' basketball coach, all Lisa Fairman did was lead the team to only the third post-season win in the program's history and the first playoff win in 14 years.

So what is she looking for as an encore from her team that lost four guards from last year's rotation?

“The key for us is to play as a team,” she said. “That is most important.

“We may have lost several key players, but we want to build upon last season and the goal is to get back to the playoffs and go from there.”

BVA returns three starters – all key players – in the Slagus sisters, 6-1 senior Jessica and 6-2 sophomore Kaitlin, and senior guard Natalie Bashada.

The elder Slagus is entering her third season as a starter and averaged 18 points and 13 rebounds a game last season.

There is no doubt that she is the leader of the team and she is also garnering attention from some colleges. At 6-1, Jessica Slagus is a very versatile player, which makes her tough to defend.

“Jess is our hardest worker and the other girls notice and it is contagious,” Fairman said. “She can post up, hit the three, and she is relentless on the offensive and defensive boards.”

Right now, Fairman said several players are vying for the other two starting positions and several others could see more time as the season progresses.

The group includes senior guard Jillian Niro, junior guard Phaedra DeWitt, sophomore guard/forward Bria Rathway, sophomore guard Kaitlyn Thomas, sophomore forward Tiernie Singleton, and sophomore forward Meaghan Murphy.

With the team's size, Fairman said that the Lady Leps will have to be prepared to hit outside shots.

“Our inside game is our strength,” she said. “It will open things up from the outside for us.

“It is up to us to hit the shots.”

The Lady Leps are in Section 4 AAA with Brownsville, Ringgold, Thomas Jefferson, Waynesburg, West Mifflin and highly-touted Elizabeth Forward.

Fairman says she again feels her team can earn a playoff spot with hard work and dedication.

BVA opens up Friday night against Carmichaels in the Charleroi Tip-off Tournament.

Bill Hughes is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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