South Fayette girls basketball experiencing a youth movement
While the South Fayette girls basketball team has been working on its defense and improving its shots, coach Matt Bacco said his staff has been learning a lesson in patience.
The Lady Lions are seeing a youth movement as they have used a combination of five sophomores and freshmen during the 2011-12 season.
“With them being so young, they are adjusting to the speed of the varity game and trying to understand our system completely,” Bacco said. “I have had to bite my lip with mistakes they have made from time to time. More often than not they have had the tendency to make a mistake, shake it off and turn it into a positive on the next play.”
One of South Fayette's biggest weapons this season had been Emily Anderson. The 6-foot-2 freshman is a dominating presence on the defensive end of the court with her ability to block shots and grab rebounds.
“I know its cliche but she is getting better with every game,” Bacco said. “For a freshman starting to figure out how to play varsity basketball, you can see the improvement. The trick for her is to stay disciplined on defense and stay out of foul trouble. When she is on the floor for us, it makes a big difference.”
Anderson is not the only freshman cracking the rotation as guards Mikayla Fetchet and Autumn Mozick have both seen time on the court.
Sophomores Min Wells and Lauren Crites are also significant parts of the South Fayette rotation. Wells is just returning from a concussion but her presence was felt last week in the Lady Lions' 46-35 win over Montour.
The first half was plagued by foul calls. Neither team seemed to be able to find a rhythm with the constant stoppage of play as the teams combined for nearly 20 fouls in the first half.
The large number of fouls threw South Fayette's rotation off, leading to several lineups that have not seen time on the court together this season.
“I don't know if I have ever seen that many fouls called in the first quarter,” Bacco said. “I don't think either defense was undisciplined or particularly physical. Both teams were in foul trouble from the start.”
Despite the foul-filled start, the South Fayette defense look strong in the first quarter, holding the Lady Spartans to a single point. The Lady Lions carried a 28-17 lead into halftime.
South Fayette's offense sputtered in the third quarter, recording only three points. The lack of production allowed Montour to pull within six points heading into the final frame.
The Lady Spartans cut the score to 31-29 early in the fourth quarter before Wells connected on a 3-pointer to give her squad some breathing room. The shot seemed to rejuvenate the offense as it outscored Montour 12-6 the rest of the way. Senior Kristen Hardt accounted for five of the Lady Lions' points during the run.
“It really felt like there was a lid on the basket the entire third quarter and a lot of the fourth,” Bacco said. “We couldn't make easy shots or free throws. (Wells) took the lid off the basket with that big three and that was the difference in the game.”
Senior Shannon Gillespie led the team with 12 points. Hardt finished with 11.
The win over Montour pushed South Fayette's record to 6-4 overall and 3-2 in Section 5-AAA play. South Park is dominating the section with a 6-0 mark but it is wide open after the Lady Eagles.
South Fayette is currently tied for second-place with Quaker Valley and Moon with 3-2 records. Keystone Oaks is close behind with a 2-3 mark.
“We look at the schedule and in scouting teams, we don't see a lot of disparity between a lot of the teams,” Bacco said. “It is going to come down to the fourth quarter of games and who can execute.”
The Lady Lions travel to South Park tonight, Thursday, for a 7:30 tipoff.
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-388-5813.