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Greensburg Salem girls to have different look than last year's team

| Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

Greensburg Salem coach Janine Vertacnik will have her work cut out for her when she fills out her five-player roster this season.

The Golden Lions' girls basketball team played in the WPIAL playoffs last year but lost significant point production and experience to graduation. To top it off, Greensburg Salem has battled the injury bug this offseason.

Jayne Oberdorf, Angela Balya and Taylor Mehan were three important starters on a team that won 16 games last year. Junior guard Claire Oberdorf is another returning starter who is recovering from ACL surgery in June and is expected back after the holidays.

“We're going to be young this year, but we're not going to use that as an excuse,” Vertacnik said. “The girls who graduated set a great example for this young group of girls, and I think they're going to go out and play very good basketball.”

While Vertacnik awaits the arrival of Oberdorf and her three years of production, she'll look to Karly Mellinger to step in and be a go-to player on the court and in the locker room.

“She knows she has a lot on her shoulders,” Vertacnik said. “Playing in the fall and summer helped her get used to playing with the younger girls and them playing with her.

“She's responded well with what we've asked her to do. She knows it'll be a challenge, so we'll be patient and let things grow.”

With Mellinger the only senior healthy, she understands her role will be to aid the underclassmen in their development. The only other senior on the roster, Kelly Hutchison, tore her ACL in June and is likely out for the year.

“It's going to be a lot different from last year, but once Claire comes back, we'll be pretty solid,” Mellinger said. “I am just going to try to get the younger kids in the rotation more and try to stay competitive in our early section schedule.”

Juniors Sydney Ross, Vanessa Adams, Lydia Kepple and Alyssa Short will see significant playing time early on. Vertacnik also expects her sophomore class of Maggie Kallock, Ally Bronson and Caitlin Stoner to gain valuable experience.

“They want to step up and be just as good as last year's team, if not better,” Vertacnik said. “Day one they came into workouts and wanted to win a section championship.

“They're not thinking about being second. They have confidence and that's the right mentality to have.”

The Golden Lions also will play a different style on the court. Because of the guards lost to graduation, Vertacnik will likely send out three forwards and two guards.

“We won't be able to run and have as much speed,” she said. “We'll look to get it inside and generate our offense from there.”

Brian Graham is a freelance writer.

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