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Quaker Valley, Sewickley Academy girls hoops squads strive for improvement

| Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012, 8:54 p.m.

After suffering losses in tournaments last week, the Quaker Valley and Sewickley Academy girls basketball teams will be seeking improvement when section play begins this month.

“It's back to the gym,” Quaker Valley coach Jim Dudas. “It's still early; we need a lot of practice, especially defensively.”

“We have to clean up a few things,” Quaker Valley assistant coach Jim Trovato said.

After beating Ringgold in the opening round, 49-31, the Quakers lost to McGuffey in the championship game, 62-53, at the Fort Cherry Tip-Off Tournament.

Senior Sierra Perlik was Quaker Valley's top scorer in both games. She had 27 points, including six 3-pointers, against Ringgold and 18 points against McGuffey.

Senior Rachel Smith had 15 points and 15 rebounds in the title game.

Sophomore Karen Pugh scored 10 points against McGuffey and had six points, 10 rebounds and four steals against Ringgold.

Sophomore Kayla Foster scored eight points in the opening game.

With Quaker Valley moving to Section 5-AAA from Class AA, Perlik was encouraged by the Quakers' win over Ringgold, a Class AAA team that spent the last several seasons in Class AAAA.

“Some of our girls were discouraged after moving from Class AA,” said Perlik, 17. “The win over Ringgold gave us a lot of confidence.”

“We weren't sure what to expect,” Quaker Valley assistant coach Aimee Young said. “It's always nice to win your first game of the season.”

Quaker Valley travels to Trinity on Monday for its first section game.

The Quakers were Section 6-AA champions with an 11-1 record a year ago.

Offense was a weak point for a young Sewickley Academy team at the Shady Side Tip-Off Tournament, where the Panthers scored a combined 52 points to finish third.

Sewickley Academy defeated Leechburg in the consolation game, 27-8, after losing to archrival Shady Side Academy in the opening round, 53-25.

The Panthers used a nine-player rotation that included only one senior.

“Our youth and inexperience showed (against Shady Side Academy),” coach Allen Vaccarelli said. “Our team became frustrated, which led to way too many unforced turnovers.

“(Against Leechburg), our girls played with much more energy on the defensive end of the court. This intensity generated a lot of steals, which led to many scoring opportunities. Although we did not capitalize on all of these chances, we were very pleased with the outcome of the game.

“The coaching staff was proud of the girls for moving on from a difficult (first) night.”

Playing for the Panthers were senior Amanda Nocera; juniors Katelyn Ripple, Mackenzie Pryor and Amanda McLeod; and sophomores Riley Roberts, Rylee Vaccarelli and Kayla Guerren.

Freshmen Maddy Casale and Paige Hennion also earned playing time.

Sewickley Academy entertains Union in a Section 1-A game Thursday.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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