Frazier girls rewarded for hard work with playoff spot
Good high school basketball programs usually aren't built overnight, especially when the program is being built from the ground up.
Two seasons ago, the Frazier girls basketball team managed just one victory.
But the Commodores seem to be making steady progress toward returning to respectability. In her first season as Frazier's coach, Shara Zupanc guided the Commodores to a Class A preliminary-round game last season, and Frazier has followed up with another playoff appearance this season.
Frazier (10-11), the 14th seed, will play third-seeded North Catholic (13-9) in a Class A first-round game 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Baldwin.
The Commodores finished in a fourth-place tie with Clairton in Section 4-A.
Frazier started the season by winning three of its first four section games, but the Commodores needed Monessen to beat Clairton in the section finale last Saturday to qualify for the postseason.
“Half of our team was at the Monessen game to see if we would be in the playoffs,” Zupanc said.
Monessen came through with the victory, which allowed Frazier to punch its playoff ticket.
“We did really well at the beginning of the season, and lately we've had some tough losses, but overall I'm very pleased, and we've shown a lot of progress,” Zupanc said prior to her team leaving for a scrimmage at Avella High School on Thursday.
Last year's appearance marked the first time Frazier qualified for the postseason since the 2005 season.
“We're motivated to play as much as we can,” Zupanc said.
The Commodores are hopeful of achieving success in the playoffs, but beating a team like the Trojans will take a mighty effort.
North Catholic is no stranger to playoff dominance. The Trojans have advanced to the WPIAL Class A championship in each of the past four seasons and have been crowned champions in 2009 and 2011.
North Catholic finished the regular season as the second-place team from Section 2-A.
This year, the Trojans boast the leading scorer in Class A. Senior guard Lauren Wolosik is averaging 27 points per game.
“Their point guard is very good, and our game plan will be to try to shut her down,” Zupanc said. “We'll try to make adjustments.”
Frazier likely will need offensive and defensive contributions from everyone, especially starters Lauren Timko and Kaley Barota — both juniors — and sophomores Cassidy Guiser, Hannah Kline and Jamie Muccioli.
Timko leads the Commodores with 249 points scored (11.3 points per game), and Guiser is close behind with 232 points (10.1 points per game).
Timko was a freshman on the team that went 1-21 in 2011, so she's relishing the success the team has had recently.
The Commodores won 10 games last year and have collected 10 wins so far this season.
“It's definitely a lot better,” Timko said. “We only won one game two years ago, but we've worked really hard, and we've never really stopped.”
That relentless effort will be on display in Saturday's game against North Catholic.
“We work really well as a team, and we don't get down on ourselves,” Timko said. “We'll try our hardest.”
No matter the result of Saturday's game, the Commodores have plenty to look forward to in the future — there are no seniors on the team.
“We have high hopes,” Zupanc said.
Jason Black is the local sports editor of the Daily Courier. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.