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Lady Greyhounds are short on star power

Jim Ference | The Valley Independent
Monessen's Monet Wade, right, is one of two starters returning for the lady Greyhounds.

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Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, 2:46 a.m.

Last year was an atypical season for the Monessen girls' basketball program.

Steeped in tradition that includes the 2004 PIAA Class A title and three WPIAL Class A crowns (1995, 2004, 2007), last season's squad went 9-13. although it went 6-4 in Section 4 A.

Monessen lost two graduated players to the collegiate level in Mariah Ward (WCCC) and Chelsea Szackal (Penn State DuBois), but that does not change the expectations for head coach Gina Naccarato.

“Our goal is to win the section and qualify for the WPIAL playoffs and PIAA playoffs,” she said before pointing out who she thinks are the favorites in Section 4 A. “I predict Serra Catholic, Winchester Thurtson and Clairton as the top three teams in the section (right now).”

Naccarato, entering her fifth season as head coach (72-25 record) after 10 years as an assistant under Major Corley, returns a pair of starters in senior forward Monet Wade (2.9 points per game and 5.0 rebounds per game) and junior guard Mariha Johnson (5.3 points per game and 3.2 rebounds per game).

The other three probable starters are junior guard Teraee Bradford, junior forward Tashyra Reid, and senior guard Sarah Mickey, who missed last season due to injury.

Three key reserves for Monessen will be senior Sha'Nia Windom, senior forward Jackie Wall, and freshman guard Andrea Kroll.

For more than 25 years, the Lady Greyhound program has churned out 1,000-point scorers and super talented squads that would see the teams reload, but this year's team does not return the star power Monessen fans have grown accustomed to.

Naccarato says the team can still have a positive season.

“We will have a successful season if the new players who haven't had a lot of playing time learn the system and progress through the season,” she said. “We have many players who haven't had a lot of varsity playing experience.

“How they react to the challenge of playing varsity basketball will determine how successful we will be this season.”

Monessen opens against Charleroi in the Lady Cougars' Tipoff Tournament Dec. 6.

Bill Hughes is a freelance writer.

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