Trinity girls look to get back on track

| Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The Trinity girls basketball team won its first eight games before losing three in a row.

For most teams, there would be significant cause for concern, but second-year head coach Bob Miles is not worried about the direction his team is heading.

“I think it's just a bump in the road,” he said. “We are playing young kidsm and a lot of them haven't experienced big game situations at this level.

“We played and lost to South Park and Bethel Park, and those two are very good programs so we knew it wasn't going to be easy.”

Through their first 11 games, the Hillers were 8-3 overall and 3-1 in Section 5-AAA, good for a three-way tie with Moon and South Fayette.

Miles spent 18 years with the Fort Cherry girls team and rebuilt the program. He is in the process of doing the same at Trinity. He said he has a talented core of senior leaders who have alleviated the transition and furthered the development of a young bench.

Seniors Kelly Korpus and Jasmine Fuqua are the cogs in the starting rotation, with Brittney Ross seeing significant playing time off the bench. Miles said part of what keeps this group motivated is the desire to leave a lasting impression on the Trinity program.

“They are hungry in the fact that they want to experience something really good during their senior year,” the coach said. “They want to put the foundation down for the kids coming up beneath them.”

Added Korpus: “We've changed so much this year, and I love where the program's at. I want to keep winning and hopefully we make it far (in the playoffs) and leave the team with a good taste of how it could end this year.”

The young crop of players on the horizon are juniors Rachel Phillis and Gigi Veltri. Phillis has been a consistent contributor averaging 11 points per game. Mary Dunn, a 6-foot sophomore center, is one of the top underclassmen that Miles hopes will be a fixture on a playoff contender in the future.

“They're the future of what we're hoping to get done here,” Miles said. “I'm happy with how they're progressing and, with more experience, I think they will continue to open eyes and get some recognition.

Freshmen Sierra Kotchman and Abbey O'Connor are the first two players Miles calls off the bench. In time, he expects them to crack the starting rotation.

Recouping from the its recent three-game hiccup should be an easy fix, Miles said. The Hillers have placed an emphasis on improving on the defensive end and defending the perimeter.

A key to having playoff success, he said, will be in not allowing the opposition to light up the scoreboard.

“We gotta get that down and win battles and improve our rebounding,” he said. “We've done a decent job.

“Our younger players have to come a little more fluid as far as the offense is concerned and relax and just play.”

Korpus agreed with Miles' assessment of what needs to be done. She said she knows the problems are fixable.

“We're really going to need to communicate on defense and we need to keep coming to play right off the tip,” she said. “We just have to stay under control, stay calm and I think we'll be fine.”

Don't expect a drop off for this year's Hillers. Miles believes this group is capable in battling in a tough section and pushing toward the goal of entering the postseason for the first time in 10 years.

“We are stronger than we were last year,” he said. “The mindset is totally different from what it was last year.

Brian Graham is a freelance writer.

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