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Experienced, deep Penn-Trafford girls basketball team seeking 3rd straight section title

Aaron Loughner | For the Tribune-Review
Penn-Trafford's Maria Palarino defends against Plum during a season-opening win on Friday, Dec. 7, 2012.

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Class AAAA


Monica Burns, Hempfield 4 84 21.0

Erin Mathias, Fox Chapel 5 95 19.0

Maggie Kimmich, Franklin Regional 3 55 18.3

Maddie Antone, Kiski Area 3 54 18.0

Gloria Schifino, Penn Hills 5 88 17.6

Mariah Wells, Chartiers Valley 3 49 16.3

Alayna Gribble, Norwin 5 78 15.6

Madison Kerr, Peters Township 4 59 14.8

Olivia Lorusso, Canon-McMillan 4 57 14.3

Mara Fitzgerald, Oakland Catholic 2 28 14.0

Chelsea Richardson, Gateway 3 42 14.0

Maria Palarino, Penn-Trafford 5 69 13.8

Megan Marecic, Bethel Park 4 54 13.5

Courtney Bauer, Shaler 4 54 13.5

Alex Golden, Chartiers Valley 3 40 13.3

Class AAA

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough, Hopewell 7 178 25.4

Jess Aulicino, Freeport 4 90 22.5

Sierra Perlik, Quaker Valley 4 90 22.5

Madi Rowan, Central Valley 5 112 22.4

Jayne Oberdorf, Greensburg Salem 3 67 22.3

Seairra Barrett, Central Valley 5 103 20.6

Jessica Slagus, Belle Vernon 4 81 20.3

Sara Pilarski, Hampton 5 94 18.8

Taylor Thomas, West Mifflin 4 70 17.5

Hallie Torris, South Park 5 86 17.2

Alexis Yanief, Thomas Jefferson 5 85 17.0

Shelby Lindsay, South Park 5 85 17.0

Alexa Szelong, Mt. Pleasant 4 62 15.5

Lyndsey Huhn, Waynesburg 4 59 14.8

Jessy Madison, Uniontown 4 58 14.5

Class AA

Ciara Gregory, Jeannette 4 149 37.3

Ayana Vaughn, Beaver Falls 1 28 28.0

Courtnee McMasters, California 4 96 24.0

C.C. Dixon, Steel Valley 3 60 20.0

Tiffani Vaughn, Beaver Falls 1 19 19.0

Ashley Emminger, Apollo-Ridge 5 93 18.6

Jaylee Patterson, South Allegheny 3 53 17.7

Jill Glover, West Shamokin 4 70 17.5

Erin Waskowiak, Bishop Canevin 5 78 15.6

Kaitlyn Hopkins, New Brighton 5 78 15.6

Nicolette Newman, Seton-La Salle 3 46 15.3

Monique Redman, Jeannette 4 60 15.0

Mia Woytovich, Charleroi 4 58 14.5

Carolyn Appleby, Greensburg C. C. 4 56 14.0

Allyson Cujas, Ford City 5 68 13.6

Class A

Lauren Wolosik, North Catholic 4 88 22.0

Morgan Berardi, Carmichaels 5 101 20.2

Marcena Sheperd, Cornell 4 77 19.3

Mariah Ward, Monessen 3 57 19.0

Mallory Heinle, St. Joseph 5 91 18.2

Aila Bradford, Eden Christian 4 67 16.8

Abby Bazzoli, Eden Christian 4 49 12.3

Amanda Brown, Carmichaels 5 54 10.8

Sophie Burkholder, Win. Thurston 3 32 10.7

Lexi Lonero, Winchester Thurston 3 32 10.7

Brytney Humphries, Win. Thurston 3 31 10.3

Caroline Cree, Carmichaels 5 51 10.2

Beth Mort, Leechburg 5 50 10.0

Anna Yaworski, Cornell 4 32 8.0

Nicole Byron, Cornell 4 30 7.5

Statistics through Monday for teams reporting

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Top high school sports
By Brian Hunger
Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, 11:34 p.m.

Experience goes a long way in winning Quad-A basketball games. Just ask Penn-Trafford girls basketball coach John Giannikas.

His Warriors (2-0, 5-0), with eight seniors, are cruising. Through its first five games, Penn-Trafford's narrowest margin of victory was a 55-44 win against Shaler — the same team that's been a thorn in the Warriors' side the past few years.

Giannikas' team lost a heartbreaker to the Titans in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs a year ago, 42-41, and two years ago was defeated by Shaler in the WPIAL quarterfinals, and then later in the PIAA tournament.

But times have changed. Penn-Trafford won back-to-back section titles with relatively younger teams the past two seasons. This year, Giannikas feels his squad has the potential to advance even further, even without four graduates.

“We have some of the core back from those section title teams,” he said. “We also have some younger talent mixed into the rotation to push the older girls. A lot of these seniors have played a lot of minutes (in big games) in the past, and they are definitely up to the challenge ahead of them.”

Seniors Taylor Cortazzo (guard), Nicole Hyland (guard) and Cassie Patterson (forward) were starters last season, and seniors Maddie Mossellem, Mia Barchetti, Jackie Bevilacqua, Morgan Rector and Chelsia Poole also play key roles.

The Warriors won a tough, 55-44, road contest at Gateway and had a surprisingly easy blowout win, 74-37, over Plum. Penn-Trafford has outscored opponents by an average of 66-31.

“Shaler and Gateway were big wins for us,” Giannikas said. “In the Plum game, we shot really well and caught them on an off night. Those are three very good teams. It's early, and we still need to mesh together a bit better but overall I'm happy so far. This offseason we really worked on our ability to score points. We really need to stay consistent with it — especially as the section games are ahead of us.”

The Warriors started section play with two easy victories over Laurel Highlands, 85-21, and Connellsville, 65-17.

Penn-Trafford also has a deep bench. The Warriors feature a rotation of nine to 10 players without missing a beat. Along with his host of upperclassmen, Giannikas has received quality minutes from sophomores Maria Palarino, a forward, and guard Casey Aunkst.

“They (sophomores) have stepped up,” Giannikas said. “Maria (Palarino) has been shooting the ball out of this world so far.”

Giannikas knows, however, things are about to get a little harder. The Warriors host a tough Kiski Area team Thursday night, play in the North Allegheny Tournament and then have their first section showdown with Hempfield on Jan. 3.

“I know it's kind of boring to say but we're really just taking this one day at a time,” he said. “Anybody can take this section right now. We're trying to improve every day. But I do know this: These next two weeks are going to tell us a lot about our team. I can't say I'm surprised (by the start). These are humble players. We just have to keep it going now.”

Brian Hunger is a freelance writer.

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