Struggles continue for young Lady Greyhounds
During a career that included being the WPIAL's all-time leading scorer, winning WPIAL championships as a player and coach and also winning a PIAA crown as a coach, Gina Naccarato hasn't known much losing at Monessen.
So, after Saturday's 54-28 loss to Fort Cherry dropped her team to 0-3, it would be understandable if Naccarato would be in a foul mood.
Instead, the fiery Naccarato was surprisingly low-key and upbeat.
“We have a lot of young people,” Naccarato said. “I'm not making excuses, but we are getting better. Every game I see improvement and that's what we told them in the locker room.
“No coach likes to lose, but the kids didn't quit at the end. That's a positive sign. They are learning and we are doing more teaching than we've had to in the past because we have so many girls who just don't have the experience.”
The Lady Greyhounds took an early 3-0 lead over Fort Cherry (3-1). However, the hosts went over eight minutes before scoring their next basket. And by the time Mariah Ward hit a layup with 6:23 left in the first half, the Lady Rangers had reeled off an 18-1 run and were in command, 18-6.
Monessen trailed 30-11 at halftime as the Lady Greyhounds made just four of 21 shots for less than 20 percent from the field.
Things didn't get much better in the second half as the Lady Greyhounds ended with a miserable 11-for-51 shooting day.
“We certainly had one of our poorer shooting games and it didn't help that (Fort Cherry) hit most of their shots,” Naccarato said.
Well, not all of the Lady Rangers, but certainly two of them.
Jenna Lucas matched Monessen's total all by herself with 28 points, including four three-pointers and making 11 of 13 free throws.
Lucas tallied 10 points in the first quarter.
Teammate Rachel Bellhy scored 18 points, including nine in each half.
Monessen, meanwhile, was led by Ward who scored 21 points, including 15 in the second half. She made nine of the Lady Greyhounds' 11 field goals.
“I told the girls that we can't depend on Mariah and Chelsea (Szakal) to score all of the points,” Naccarato said. “Other players have to step up and contribute offensively.”
Szakal was rusty in her first game action since tearing her ACL late last season. She finished with two points.
“She was rusty but she hasn't played in a while,” Naccarato said. “I'm not worried about Chelsea. She will work her way back into basketball shape.”
The Lady Greyhounds still have a few games to play before they open play in their section. However, the competition won't get any easier as Monessen hosts Jeannette Wednesday and Uniontown Friday.
“We will be OK, as long as we keep working,” Naccarato promised.
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.