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Franklin Regional girls dealing with injuries in summer league play

| Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Doug Gulasy | Murrysville Star
Franklin Regional's Maddie Pulaski dribbles the ball during a summer league game against Norwin on June 10, 2014, at McKeesport High School.

Injuries can cause problems for teams during the regular season, but the Franklin Regional girls basketball team is experiencing some health-related misfortune during the summer.

The Panthers, competing in a summer league hosted by the McKeesport School District, are missing the contributions of rising seniors Nikki Wesolowski and Hanna Bursic, who are dealing with knee and hand injuries, respectively.

“It's harder without your most experienced kids, but I just feel bad they can't get the work they want to get in,” coach Rick Klimchock said. “They aren't able to get as much work as they'd like to get themselves more experienced because summer's a good time to learn for them as well.”

Basketball teams around the WPIAL frequently compete in summer leagues hosted by various schools. Klimchock said he decided to enter his more experienced players in the competitive McKeesport league, which includes playoff teams like defending WPIAL Class AAAA champion Penn-Trafford, as well as runner-up Hempfield, Norwin, Bethel Park, Baldwin and Gateway.

Although Klimchock said the injuries caused some problems, he said it gave younger players an opportunity to play against high-quality opponents.

“You're trying to find out who can help your team on the varsity or JV level next year, so that gives you a little look at that,” Klimchock said.

“We're giving them all a lot of work,” he added. “We're not running a lot of plays, a lot of out-of-bounds plays. We're letting them play. We're pressing a little bit, (and) we're playing a lot of man-to-man (defense). We're just seeing what we have.”

Klimchock said he liked what he saw from his incoming senior class, as well as many of the younger players. A second Franklin Regional team full of younger players is competing against teams from the WPIAL Class AA and Class A levels in the McKeesport league.

“We're getting plenty of basketball, and we have 20 or so girls all getting a lot of work this summer,” he said.

Franklin Regional, which missed the playoffs in 2013-14, began offseason work in April with open gyms. Klimchock said the team focused on fundamentals like ballhandling and shooting form.

He said the team would begin its conditioning program, which includes weightlifting and skill development, this week. The Panthers will play in a second summer league beginning next month at Plum.

“We're excited about the summer, and we're working hard,” Klimchock said. “We're just going to keep our fingers crossed.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-388-5830, via email at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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