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Lacking experience, Riverview girls will rely on sophomore guard Buchser

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Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Riverview's Sadie Buchser drives to the hoop against Knoch at the high school on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013.
Top high school sports
By D.j. Vasil
Monday, Dec. 2, 2013, 10:27 p.m.

Being young and inexperienced typically doesn't bode well for high school basketball teams. The Riverview girls, however, will turn to speed, talent and knowledge to make up for lack of experience.

Having only one senior, and two returning starters, coach Keith Stitt knows he could be in for an uphill battle, at least early on. The Raiders will compete in Class AA for the second straight season after making the WPIAL Class A semifinals in 2011-12.

“You have to try to be positive and upbeat with them,” Stitt said. “They are going to struggle, and we've talked about it. We play a tough schedule.”

Leading the charge for the Riverview offense will be standout sophomore guard Sadie Buchser, who averaged 13 points per game despite playing behind the now graduated Ashley Bruni. The sky is the limit talent-wise for Buchser, the coach said.

“She is a tremendously skilled offensive player,” Stitt said. “She can score. She can finish at the rim and she's a good ball-handler.”

The other returning starter is junior guard/forward Bree Patsy. She is the leading rebounder from last season, averaging nine per game. She also enters this season with a clean slate healthwise. It wasn't until the second half of last season that she fully recovered from an anterior crucial ligament injury that slowed her the first half of the season.

Rounding out the starting five for the Raiders will be junior guard Leah Sero, junior guard Hannah Larkin and sophomore guard Nicole Munion. The development and maturity of Munion could dictate how Riverview does this season.

Riverview's bench players could be a big strength as Stitt will have two girls nearing the 6-foot mark in 5-10 senior forward Madison Long and 5-11 sophomore forward Candice Ashbaugh. Also coming off the bench will be sophomore guard Nikki Polens. Described by Stitt as a defensive terror, Polens is someone who could provide quality minutes off the bench.

Stitt lost dependable and knowledgeable assistant Sean Knapp, who resigned after last season, but his replacement has plenty to offer this group.

Former St. Joseph head coach Dan Slain moves into Knapp's place after not being retained at St. Joseph. He guided the Spartans' girls to four straight WPIAL Class A playoff appearances.

“I'm really fortunate to have been able to bring in Coach Slain,” Stitt said. “It's kind of different in his style, and honestly he's getting his feet wet, and feeling his way through and trying to get to know the kids. His basketball knowledge will get greater as the time goes. I'm really fortunate to bring someone of his caliber in when I lost a high-quality assistant coach.”

D.J. Vasil is a freelance writer.

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