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BVA girls' expectations still growing

| Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Elizabeth Forward's Dana Buck goes for the lay-up over Belle Vernon's Kaitlyn Slagus on Thursday, February 7, 2013 at Belle Vernon Area High School. Ronald Vezzani Jr./Daily News

Belle Vernon Area girls' basketball coach Lisa Fairman has really set the bar high for her program.

“Each year we set our goals to try and top the previous season,” the third-year coach said. “We want to battle for the section title, get a nice spot in the playoffs and make a nice run.”

When you consider the success Fairman and her team have had in her first two seasons at the helm, it will take an impressive and solid season to top the standard the team has set.

Two seasons ago, the Lady Leps downed Indiana in a WPIAL Class AAA pigtail game and then last year, they made it to the quarterfinals by blowing out favored Greensburg-Salem, 60-41, in a first round contest.

The two postseason wins the Lady Leps picked up during Fairman's short tenure have doubled the total playoff wins in the program's history with two coming in 1998.

A key for BVA to duplicate their success from last season, or even surpass it, will be how it handles having to replace three starters, including 1,000-point scorer Jessica Slagus, now playing at Seton Hill.

“The bar has been set high, but I told the team that we have to learn to win on our own and that the girls will have to step it up,” Fairman said. “If we can get some good balance, we will be alright.”

Leading the way will be 6-2 junior Kaitlyn Slagus.

“She has transitioned very well into taking on a leadership role after watching (her sister) Jess lead,” Fairman said. “She has improved her game immensely, her agility is better, and she has extended her shooting range.”

While Fairman said that her starting lineup is not yet set, she said it appears seven players will join Slagus in the rotation.

Slagus will be joined in the lineup by senior guards, Phaedra DeWitt and Courtney Askin, as well as juniors Kaitlin Thomas, Sam Mendicino, Bria Rathway and Lauren Planey. Forward Meaghan Murphy will look to give the Lady Leps an aggressive force around the basket.

“They all have important roles,” Fairman said. “And for us to be successful, they will all have to play as a team.”

While remaining one of the youngest teams in the section, experience will be a main factor in the Lady Leps' in their search for a section championship.

BVA will look to compete for the Section 4-AAA title with Elizabeth Forward, Thomas Jefferson, West Mifflin, Ringgold, Brownsville, and Waynesburg.

The Lady Leps open the season Saturday at their inaugural tip-off tournament.

With only three teams participating, BVA will play two games Saturday. First up will be Keystone Oaks at 3:30 p.m. followed by the Lady Leps playing Upper St. Clair at 7:30.

Bill Hughes is a freelance writer.

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