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Blairsville girls, boys expected to lead pack in Heritage Conference

| Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, 10:06 p.m.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Blairsville's Kia Clayton is guarded by teammate Hannah Snyder during practice in Blairsville on December 4, 2013.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Blairsville's Laurel O'Barto is guarded by teammate Emily Oswald during practice in Blairsville on December 4, 2013.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Blairsville coach Ralph McGinnis runs practice in Blairsville on December 4, 2013.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Blairsville's Kia Clayton in between drills during practice in Blairsville on December 4, 2013.

Blairsville girls basketball coach Ralph McGinnis couldn't believe what he was watching.

After his Bobcats (24-2) won their first District 6-AA title last season, they were set to make a run at the state championship.

Those dreams were dashed in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs when Blairsville was upset by Greensburg Central Catholic, 58-39.

“We picked the wrong time to play our worst game of the season,” McGinnis said. “We did things that game we hadn't done all season. Hopefully, we learned from that loss.

“The target will be on our backs, but I think we're capable of getting back to the title game.”

McGinnis said the team is ready to make another run. Gone is leading scorer Mackenzie Livingston and her 19.9 points per game. She is now playing at IUP.

But juniors Chelsey Koren, Laurel O'Barto and Nicole Boyer return.

Koren, a 5-foot-11 forward, averaged 17.7 ppg and is already getting Division I looks. O'Barto, a 5-7 point guard, averaged 10.5.

“Our success in the District 6 playoffs the past few seasons has been very valuable,” McGinnis said. “Chelsey and Laurel give us a solid one-two punch.

“Chelsey plays inside for us, but she's capable of playing a guard. Laurel is getting better every day handling the basketball.”

McGinnis will be counting on lettermen Kia Clayton, a 5-9 junior guard, and Mikala Misleany, a 5-8 sophomore forward, to play key roles. Seniors Mary Ann Ostach and Vanessa Pavlik also will be counted on.

Blairsville tips off the season in the Hollidaysburg tournament against Bellwood-Antis, the team it defeated for the District 6 title.

McGinnis is looking forward to getting under way.

So is Blairsville boys coach Mark DeMarines, who replaced Todd McGee. DeMarines, 26, was McGee's assistant last season.

DeMarines is a 2006 Blairsville grad and played on a team that won consecutive District 6 titles.

“That was a fun time,” DeMarines said. “We had a lot of talent. I'm looking forward to coaching my first team.”

And DeMarines has some talent to work with. Point guard Colton McMillan (13.5 points per game), a 5-11 senior, and 6-4 junior forward Troy Williams (18.6 ppg) are expected to lead the Bobcats.

DeMarines also is counting on 6-3 junior forward Rhadezz Henderson and junior guard Cameron Livingston.

“We had a good summer in the Indiana League and I expect that to carry over to this season,” DeMarines said. “We were very competitive and only lost twice. We have good leadership. We may be young, but we're talented.”

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