Class AA girls basketball preview: Paced by 3 Pitt recruits, Seton-La Salle again the favorite
By Justin Criado
Published: Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Significant changes usually come after disappointing seasons, but the Seton-La Salle girls basketball team will have a different look after quite a successful year.
After cruising to a 27-3 record, including deep runs in the WPIAL and state playoffs, the Rebels hired a new coach and will feature a new player, who transferred from Virginia's Oak Hill Academy last year.
“I got all the support in the world so there hasn't been much of an adjustment,” said coach Spencer Stefko, who guided Chartiers Valley to a 137-51 record the past seven seasons. “There certainly hasn't been challenges.”
Stefko replaces John Ashaolu, who is the Seton-La Salle athletic director and served as interim coach last year after Dennis Squeglia resigned.
“Between the two coaches, I would say they both know a couple things about basketball,” said senior Naje Gibson, referring to Stefko and Ashaolu's resumes.
The Rebels have been receiving praise, too. Three players have committed to Pitt, including senior guard/forward Yacine Diop, who sat out her junior year after transferring to Seton-La Salle and has played internationally for her home country of Senegal.
“The kids are a lot more hungry than you would imagine a stereotypical talented kid,” Stefko said. “They really want to learn. You don't necessarily expect that mindset from a kid that's talented or already has a scholarship. It's just a great feeling to be a part of.”
The 6-foot Gibson, also headed to Pitt, is the spark of the offense, leading the Rebels in scoring (13 ppg), rebounds (165) and steals (81) last season. But the 5-foot 10 Diop will complement Gibson's generous game.
“She is one of the most unselfish players,” Stefko said. “Sometimes we need to tell her to shoot.”
Gibson added: “I try to get better for my teammates and be a good teammate and leader and play hard.”
Though much of the focus will be on Gibson, Diop and junior Pitt commit Cassidy Walsh, Stefko said the team's depth will be key.
“It gives me the feeling we can be pretty good because we got some depth,” Stefko said. “By the end of the year we can be a tough out.”
Junior Nicolete Newman and sophomore Shaunay Edmonds will round out the starting five. A trio of juniors highlight a talented bench — guards Giavanna Facchiano and Julie DeKlaven and forward Morgan Henderson.
Practices have been competitive, and it's no secret what Seton's plans are for the end of the year.
“Win WPIALs again and win another state (title),” Gibson said.
Justin Criado is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Butler County Hall of Fame reunites Mars girls team
- TJ’s Dom DeCicco named 2013-14 Daily News Coach of the Year