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Sewickley Academy girls looking to up the tempo

Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Academy girls basketball coach Allen Vaccarelli talks to his players during practice at the school Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012.

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By Karen Kadilak
Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

A return to an old style has helped a young Sewickley Academy girls basketball team.

After switching to an up-tempo offense, the Panthers (5-9, 2-6 in Section 1-A) have reduced turnovers and are scoring more.

With nine underclassmen, Sewickley Academy played more deliberately in the first half of the season, thinking it more suitable for an inexperienced team, coach Allen Vaccarelli said.

“All of my teams have always played up-tempo, but this year we thought a set offense would be better,” said Vaccarelli, in his fifth year as coach. “After the Cornell game, I decided that we needed to make a change and go back to what this program has been about over the last five years.

“The girls have responded in a positive way; this style is much more enjoyable.”

After losing to Cornell, 50-14, on Jan. 14, Sewickley Academy scored a combined 75 points in losses to Union and Aliquippa.

Aliquippa beat the Panthers by only three points.

Before changing offense, Sewickley Academy scored less than 30 points in most games.

Twice, it had only 14 points.

“There's a lot of energy now,” said Amanda McLeod, one of three junior co-captains. “Before, we were analyzing things too much.

“This is much more spontaneous, which makes things fun.”

With no seniors, Sewickley Academy has begun looking forward to next year.

“Everyone's getting valuable minutes,” junior co-captain Mackenzie Pryor said.

“We're all working as a group,” said junior co-captain Katelyn Ripple, who leads the team with eight points and seven rebounds per game.

Besides the three juniors, freshman Maddy Casale and sophomore Riley Roberts start for the Panthers.

Averaging 7.5 points, Casale leads the team in assists and has made 12 3-point shots.

Sophomores Rylee Vaccarelli and Kayla Guerin, as well as freshmen Paige Hennion and Summer Thorpe, also have played.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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