Thomas takes over as girls' head coach at Brentwood
The Brentwood girls' basketball program has had three head coaches in the last four years.
Rachel Thomas was hired as head coach in June after serving as an assistant for two seasons. She is a Brentwood graduate and a lifelong resident of the borough.
“This coaching staff is introducing a new set of core values and expectations as athletes, students and individuals,” Thomas said. “Some of our more seasoned veterans are on their third head coach during their high school tenure. Part of our goal as a staff is to inspire these values and expectations to develop a successful program for many years to follow.”
The Lady Spartans finished 9-13 overall in 2012-13, which included a 2-10 slate in Section 4-AA.
Thomas welcomed back two team leaders from last year in seniors Laura McGowan, a 6-foot center, and Sydney Bauer, a 5-7 guard/forward.
There also are two juniors on the 2013-14 squad in 5-9 forward Sarah Pope and 5-4 guard Makala Hannan.
Alecia Folino, a 5-7 sophomore guard, is a returning starter, and is joined by classmates Nicole Zdrojewski, a 5-8 forward, and Dominque Young, a 5-4 guard.
One of Brentwood's goals is to qualify for the WPIAL playoffs for the first time in recent memory.
“We've have a solid group of young women determined and willing to push themselves to reach their individual and team goals,” Thomas said. “Our team expects to make the playoffs this year. We have a highly competitive team.
“When we combine our seasoned veterans with our young talent, we're seeing a level of motivation that hasn't been seen on our court for some time. These young women are finding a certain level of commitment and pride.”
The two teams that clashed in last year's WPIAL Class AA finals — Seton-La Salle and Bishop Canevin — were the top two finishers in Section 4-AA last season.
Seton (12-0) and the BC girls (10-2) were followed by Steel Valley (8-4), Chartiers-Houston (6-6), Fort Cherry (4-8), Brentwood and winless Wilkinsburg in the final section standings.
“We are in a very competitive section,” Thomas said. “It's quite obvious that Seton-La Salle and Bishop Canevin are tough to beat.
“Every game will provide a new set of challenges. However, our values and expectations remain the same regardless of who we compete against.”
Brentwood opens its season Friday versus Carrick in the annual Brentwood High Athletic Boosters' tip-off tournament.
The local squad will visit South Allegheny Monday in a nonsection test, before jumping into section action Dec. 12 at home against Fort Cherry.
“The early part of our season (we) will focus on our strengths and fundamentals,” Thomas said, “developing, focusing and creating our system around those strengths.”
Five freshman prospects have joined the varsity program this season, consisting of 5-11 forward Stephanie Thomas, 5-8 guard/forward Hannah Livingston, 5-5 guard Molly Huffman, 5-6 guard Emma Betz and 5-6 guard Emily Kraeuter.
The Lady Spartans are slated to play six of their first seven games at home.
Spartans' backcourt senior-laden
Brentwood's boys' basketball team clinched a WPIAL Class AA playoff berth last year as the fourth-place finisher in Section 4.
It marked the third time in the past four seasons Brentwood qualified for the WPIAL playoffs — a trend the Spartans are looking to continue this winter.
The Brentwood boys won four of their five final regular-season games last year, then advanced to the WPIAL Class AA quarterfinals.
The Spartans, who were driven by a strong group of senior hoopsters, saw their 2012-13 campaign end in the first round of the PIAA playoffs with a 14-11 overall record.
Head coach Dave Mislan greeted five seniors, six juniors, five sophomores plus one freshman to this year's team.
Senior leadership this season — in particular in the Brentwood backcourt — will be provided by 5-9 Sean Cloonan, 5-7 Jack Murano, 6-foot Andrew Stofesky, 5-9 Justin Vickless and 5-8 Matt Yasko.
All five players are listed as guards; five juniors are boardmen.
Troy Elphinstone, a 6-6 center, and Marc Wells, a 6-6 forward, are the tallest players on the team. The three other junior forwards are Bill Madeja and Justin Pitcher, both listed as 6-foot, and 5-11 Brendan Mulholland.
Connor McWilliams, the starting quarterback on the Brentwood football team, is a 6-1 junior guard.
The sophomore class is represented by guards Pat Carr, Nick George, Brandon Mayfield and Sean McGlaughlin, along with forward Daniel Stiefvater.
Dorian Bowie is a leading freshman prospect at the guard position.
Brentwood opens the season Friday against Carrick in the Brentwood High Athletic Boosters' tip-off tournament.
The Spartans host Carlynton Wednesday in a nonsection game, then will start section play Dec. 13 at home versus Fort Cherry.
Seton-La Salle is the defending champion in Section 4-AA. Washington finished in second place, followed by Bishop Canevin and Brentwood.
Burgettstown, Chartiers-Houston and Fort Cherry rounded out last year's section standings.
Ray Fisher is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5820 or firstname.lastname@example.org.