South Fayette girls basketball contending with injury bug early in the season
South Fayette girls basketball coach Matt Bacco had a simple analysis of his squads 49-27 loss to Bishop Canevin last week.
“We got our butts whipped.”
The early out-of-section loss dropped the Lady Lions to 2-1 but there still is a long season ahead. Several injuries have Bacco using a “mish mash” of players trying to find the right formula for success.
“We are starting to see what our identity is,” Bacco said. “It is going to be better for us when we get everyone healthy.”
Two of the potential starters – senior Shannon Gillespie and sophomore Mia Wells – have both struggled with injuries early in the season. Gillespie has been nursing a quad injury and has seen limited time on the court while Wells is expected to be back on the court in January from concussion-like symptoms.
“It will be a few weeks until (Wells) is cleared to play,” Bacco said. “We will have to see where she is at that point.”
Three young players have gotten time on the court due to the injuries and have made the most of it. Freshman Emily Anderson – a 6-foot-1 forward – and Autumn Mozick – a 5-foot-7 guard – both got extended time on the court and hit double figures in scoring.
Sophomore guard Lauren Crites has also been a regular presence in the South Fayette lineup early in the season. The new faces have meshed well with returning players.
Maybe the most experienced player on the 2012-13 South Fayette roster is senior Caitlin McLuckie. The guard has been a presence on the Lady Lions roster for her entire career and her experience will be crucial for the team as the season goes on.
“She is a kid who has started a large portion of games for four years now,” Bacco said. “She has played some big games. She's played in WPIAL playoff games. She has a lot of experience.”
South Fayette also returns senior guard Kristen Hardt. Bacco said Hardt has been off to a slow start but has the potential to be an offensive threat.
“She can really hit some shots when she gets hot,” Bacco said.
The blend of experience and talented youngsters will bode well for the Lady Lions when they hit section play.
Montour and Trinity both remain in Section 5-AAA from last season but Keystone Oaks, Moon, Quaker Valley and South Park were added due to WPIAL realignment.
“Chartiers Valley moved up to Quad-A but they didn't do us any favors with South Park moving in to replace them,” Bacco said. “After that there is a lot of parody. On any given night anyone can beat anyone. There are no gimmies.”
While the Lady Lions are in for a battle in section play, they have found a way to be a continued presence in the WPIAL postseason. South Fayette has reached the postseason the past six season – including the PIAA playoffs in three of the last four years. If history holds true, South Fayette should be playing when spring is on everyone's mind.
“We have had some solid basketball teams that last four years,” Bacco said. “And our goals this year are similar to those seasons. We know what level we have to play at to get there. We might have to get through some close section games early on until we are healthy.”
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-388-5813.