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Cheswick Christian girls relying on defense, experience this season

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By D.j. Vasil
Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, 12:21 a.m.

Cheswick Christian Academy's girls basketball team will try to do things the oldfashioned way this year, relying on defense and experience to turn around a 9-11 record in the Southwest Christian Athletic Conference.

The Chargers return three key starters from last year: junior guards Jacque Willis and Alyssa Slancauskas and senior guard Ariel Festa.

“They have the most experience and they started last year,” coach Deric Johnson said. “They are three kids we are relying upon more than anybody.”

Johnson said Festa is the team's best defensive player and has improved her ball-handling and shooting.

Willis missed time last year with injuries, but Johnson expects her to contribute. Both Festa and Willis have the potential to lead the team in scoring.

“Jackie and Alyssa have led the team in scoring in the past,” Johnson said. “I have every expectation we will get better in the front court as the year goes on.”

The final two starting spots will be between three forwards: sophomore Nicole Pugliese, senior Sarah Evans and freshman Kathleen Swartzwelder.

“Some of the girls have just improved,” Johnson said. “We will see natural improvement in terms of another year of experience. We will struggle early on and adjust to the lack of scoring, but I think we will pick that up quickly when we learn who we can go to. It's a new team, so we have to develop new leadership and scoring.”

D.J. Vasil is a freelance writer.

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