South Fayette girls basketball continues to grow up
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How inconsistent has the South Fayette girls basketball team been this season?
“I told the team that our inconsistency keeps me up at night sometimes,” coach Matt Bacco said. “But when you not only have a young starting five but also a young bench, it is something you have to deal with.”
The Lions' 10-player roster consists of eight underclassmen and no seniors. While the team is still growing up, it has battled its way to a 5-3 mark in Section 5-AAA and is in the driver's seat for a WPIAL playoff berth.
The team returned only two juniors – forward Lauren Crites and guard Mia Wells, both of whom gained valuable experience in past seasons. The coaching staff rounded out the starting five with sophomore guards Mikayla Fetchet and Autumn Mozick and freshman guard Carlee Kilqus.
The Lions are also without one of its top players – 6-foot-2 sophomore forward Emily Anderson, who suffered a lower body injury before the season.
“The things we are asking from some of our young kids is, quite frankly, a lot,” Bacco said. “We have sophomores and freshmen starting and coming off the bench and are putting in a lot of minutes at the varsity level. I am proud of what we have accomplished but we still have a lot of work to do.”
The team's 57-43 loss to Keystone Oaks last week highlighted the ups and downs it has experienced this season.
South Fayette struggled to find offensive production in the first half and trailed 30-13 at halftime. But the Lions rallied in the third and fourth quarters and cut the lead to five but due to players in foul trouble, they couldn't keep the momentum going.
“I am happy with the effort from our team,” Bacco said. “You never want to take that for granted. But it was disappointing. Going on the road with a young team is never easy. Hopefully we will learn the lesson of if you don't show up on time and do your job from the tip, you will end up in a hole you cannot get out of.”
Kilqus and Wells each finished with 12 points in the loss. It was the second game in the series this season. The Lions defeated the Golden Eagles, 53-43, on Dec. 20.
Even while relying on a group of underclassmen, South Fayette controls its own destiny when it comes to playoffs. Despite an overall record of 7-8 – thanks in part to a highly competitive out of section slate that included Bethel Park, Bishop Canevin and Elizabeth Forward – the Lions are 5-3 in Section 5-AAA. With games remaining against Montour, Moon and Trinity – all of which South Fayette has already defeated this season – the Lions control their fate.
“It will be an introduction to that stage for a lot of our players,” Bacco said. “We have been in the tournament every year since I came here five years ago and hope to do it again. Solid programs make it to the playoffs every year and build upon that. We try to be an elite program, so making it to the playoffs is big.
“With all the young kids we have, the experience should really help us in a year or two with none of our players graduating.”
South Fayette returns to the court tonight, Thursday, when it travels to Moon for a 7 p.m. tip.
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.
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