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Seton-La Salle's Gibson, Walsh commit to Pitt and McConnell-Serio

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By Jennifer Goga
Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Seton-La Salle girls' basketball team participated in a summer camp at the University of Pittsburgh in late June.

Pitt's new women's basketball coach Suzie McConnell-Serio clearly liked what she saw on the court from senior Naje Gibson and junior Cassidy Walsh.

McConnell-Serio offered both girls full scholarships shortly after the camp.

“She took me and my family into her office after the camp and asked me to come to Pitt,” said Walsh, 16, of Whitehall. “I said ‘yes' right away. I was so excited.”

Walsh was anxious to play for McConnell-Serio, a former Seton-La Salle basketball star. Walsh verbally committed last August to play for Duquesne University, before McConnell-Serio was hired at the University of Pittsburgh.

So it was no surprise that Walsh accepted a new offer from McConnell-Serio and the Lady Panthers.

“I've always wanted to play for her. She is such a genuine and positive person,” Walsh said. “And her coaching staff is the same way. They are the kind of people that I want to surround myself with.”

Gibson, 18, of McKees Rocks was being recruited by Pitt before McConnell-Serio took over as head coach.

Unsure if she wanted to stay so close to home, Gibson was considering offers at Cleveland State and Dayton. But after the camp, she realized Pitt was the right fit.

“They really made me feel comfortable there,” Gibson said.

Gibson plans to study early childhood development at Pitt. A 6-foot guard/forward, she averaged 13 points and 6.5 rebounds per game last season.

Walsh, with two more years of high school in front of her, is undecided about a college major. She is a 5-7 guard and averaged 10.5 ppg last season.

Gibson met McConnell-Serio through her friend Erin Waskowiak, who played at Bishop Canevin. Waskowiak and Seton-La Salle graduate Angela Heintz will be freshmen teammates at Duquesne in 2013-14.

As expected, Gibson is looking forward to her senior season at Seton-La Salle. She and Walsh both are excited about playing for the Lady Rebels' new floor boss, Spencer Stefko, and are optimistic about their chances for a successful season.

With only three seniors lost to graduation, the core of the team will return to defend Seton-La Salle's winning tradition.

Stefko took over the helm in May. He coached the Chartiers Valley girls' team for seven years, and also has experience with the Western Pennsylvania Bruins AAU basketball team.

“He seems very positive and enthusiastic,” Walsh said. “He brings a lot of energy, and I think that's going to be good for the program.”

Jennifer Goga is a freelance writer

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