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New coach hopes to guide Latrobe girls to success with fast-paced offense

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Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Greater Latrobe's Emma Kate Womack drives to the hoop for two during a practice session on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, in Latrobe.
Top high school sports
By Alex Oltmanns
Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Guided by LuAnn Mills' fast-paced, ball-movement offense, the Jeannette girls basketball team claimed the last three Section 3-AA championships.

Now entering her first season as head coach of the Latrobe, girls basketball Mills plans to use the same approach that made her Jeannette teams so successful.

“It's a lot of movement, run and gun and up-tempo play,” Mills said.

Mills' philosophy dates back to her playing days at Pitt-Johnstown where she took her team to the Division II Final Four as an All-American, and her new players have taken a liking to her system already.

“They loved it because they said they've never had that much movement in the whole time they've ever played so it was new to them and it was exciting I think,” Mills said. “What it does is it gets everybody involved in every play. … That's the style of play I like because when I played in college all five of us were in double figures and that's why we were so successful and I know that's the ticket.

“With the system that I run I try and get everyone involved and everyone has a sense of belonging which creates confidence.”

Mills inherits a team that features four returning starters from last season's campaign that saw the Wildcats go 9-14 overall and 6-8 in Section 1-AAAA. They lost in the preliminary round of the WPIAL playoffs.

Forward Emma Kate Womack and guard Taley Dunaway return as the team's top seniors while Rachael and Madison Kollar (no relation) will join them in the starting lineup.

According to Mills, the fifth spot in the starting lineup has not yet been set, but the Wildcats will start the season rotating junior guard/forwards Taylor Kokoska and Anna Ayers.

While Mills said she has seen her team come a long way in preseason practices up to this point, there is still plenty of room for improvement before Latrobe opens its season this weekend at the Indiana Tournament.

“I think we're more comfortable running the floor,” Mills said. “We still have a ways to go yet, but each day we get better.”

The first-year Latrobe coach doesn't want to get too far ahead of herself by making season projections at this early point in the season but instead wants to simply keep making steady improvements.

“Right now, I'm pretty happy with what we've accomplished together so far,” Mills said. “I just think that the long term goal is to have a successful season. Sometimes it doesn't always mean going to the WPIAL playoffs.

“Right now, I've seen we've already been successful, we're better than we were two months ago and I hope to be better in another month … My goal is to be the best we can be.”

Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.

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