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Griffin takes over Keystone Oaks girls basketball team

| Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Rich Griffin was the coach of the Carlynton girls basketball team for the 2011-12 season.

After one of his first voluntary practices with his new team last week, Keystone Oaks girls basketball coach Rich Griffin laid out the three goals he wants his team to strive for: a section title, a WPIAL championship and the PIAA crown.

“It doesn't mean we will do it this year,” the Keystone Oaks alumnus said. “But I believe in my school. I am personally invested. I have been around this program for years.

“If we win every single day and work hard, we should get where we need to be.”

Griffin replaces Nikki Presto, who resigned after last season. Presto recorded a 43-30 record with two trips to the WPIAL postseason and one trip to the PIAA playoffs in three seasons with the Golden Eagles.

Griffin isn't a stranger to the Keystone Oaks girls basketball program. He was involved for the program for 10 years with various coaching duties.

“I have known some of the players on the team since they were fourth graders,” Griffin said. “I have worked with them in Metro basketball and through the youth program. It is definitely special to be able to come back home.”

Griffin was the head coach at Carlynton for the 2011-12 season. He went 12-10 with the Cougars but resigned after the season.

“I had a great time at Carlynton,” Griffin said. “It was an awesome experience. As a coach, it gave me the opportunity to run a program. I got the kids six days a week in a grinding, marathon schedule.

“I gained the knowledge of how to manage a schedule and a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff like dealing with boosters.”

After his time with the Cougars, Griffin coached in the college ranks. He was head coach at CCAC South for the 2012-13 season and a member of the Point Park women's basketball coaching staff last season.

“(Point Park) coach Tony Grenek is an unbelievable coach,” Griffin said. “It was outstanding to coach under him for a year.”

With a new coach, Keystone Oaks will move into a new section for the 2014-15 season. The Golden Eagles will join Section 5-AAA and compete against Chartiers Valley, McGuffey, Montour, Quaker Valley, South Fayette and Trinity.

The team will return several experienced players including seniors Lexi Mercuri and Kayla Brownlee and junior Maryah Agurs.

With the season six months away, the focus is to get the team on track.

“As a team, I want us to come together,” Griffin said. “I want to start to form bonds. I want to build trust.

“The season is a grueling marathon. I want us to walk away better than when we were when we stepped on the court.”

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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