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First-year coach hopes to lead Sewickley Academy girls to postseason

| Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, 7:28 p.m.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Sewickley Academy's Amanda McLeod tries to get around Mackenzie Pryor during practice Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, at the school.

The Sewickley Academy girls basketball team is returning to basics under first-year coach Christen Adels.

Sewickley Academy will compete in the Aquinas Academy Tip-Off Tournament next weekend (Dec. 6-7) before opening Section 1-A play Dec. 12 at Union.

“Defensively, I'm not too worried; the girls are pretty aggressive,” Adels said. “But they're not comfortable running plays.

“We have to focus on fundamentals.”

Most players return from last year's team, which was 6-14 overall and 3-9 in Section 1-A.

Senior Amanda McLeod has noticed improvement already.

“We're learning the core aspect (of) each play,” McLeod said. “We're even practicing throwing the ball.”

“We're going back to square one,” senior Mackenzie Pryor said.

Sophomore Maddy Casale (160 points), senior Katelyn Ripple (146) and junior Kayla Guerin (70) are back after leading the Panthers in scoring a year ago.

Sewickley Academy also returns it top three rebounders: Ripple (175), Pryor (103) and McLeod (101).

Ripple also had a team-high 70 steals.

Casale ranked first in assists (35) and second in steals (46).

Junior Rylee Vaccarelli was third in assists with 28.

Sewickley Academy will be more disciplined in executing an up-tempo offense.

“The girls are very athletic and can run,” said Adels, 38, who previously coached at Beaver County Christian, where she remains in charge of the volleyball program. “But we'll also stress game control.”

Pryor said she and her teammates look forward to qualifying for the WPIAL playoffs for the first time in four seasons.

The Panthers were eliminated early in 2011.

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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