Warriors hit the hardwood
TribLIVE Sports Videos
The union of Sam Kosanovich and the Elizabeth Forward girls basketball team was no shotgun wedding.
More like a match made in heaven.
Newlywed bliss often fades heading into Year Two — but not with the Warriors, who are confident they can make even more strides after an 11-win improvement under Kosanovich from the season prior to his arrival.
“I thought things were pretty positive last season considering it's an uncomfortable situation with a new coach and a new team adjusting to each other,” Kosanovich said. “It's like your first year of marriage trying to get used to your spouse. When you make that transition, it's nice, and you feel much better making that transition into the second year.”
The comfort level has increased between Kosanovich and his players, and confidence is high with four starters back from last season's 18-6 team that advanced to the WPIAL Class AAA quarterfinals and qualified for the PIAA tournament.
Elizabeth Forward has the capability of going 10-12 deep this season, including seven or eight who played significant minutes last season.
Center/forward Dana Buck is the Warriors' leading returning scorer, and she will share the senior leadership duties with guard Macy Pekala.
A pair of sophomore guards who showed great potential last season are Olivia Barkley and Abigail Sporio.
Four juniors — 6-foot forward Natalie Fekula, 5-8 guard Kylie Owoc, 5-6 guard Alison Pastore and 5-10 center Andrea Paterra — all figure prominently in the Warriors' plans.
“The thing now is we want to get to an even higher level,” Kosanovich said. “To do that, we need to be more consistent.
“I'm happy for what happened that first year, but also expect more this year.”
Warriors' boys adjust to new coach
Just like a small child who hasn't eaten his vegetables, players on the Elizabeth Forward boys basketball team had to wait to get their serving of Puddin.
The Warriors have a new coach this season in Gerald “Puddin” Grayson, the longtime coach of the McKeesport girls and a child sports legend for the McKeesport Little Tigers five decades ago.
But Grayson wasn't hired by Elizabeth Forward until June. Not only did that accelerate — and abbreviate — the acclimation process for the players and their new coach, it also meant the Warriors weren't able to put a summer league team together.
Come fall, many of the EF basketball players also compete on the school's football team. That meant the Warriors missed out on fall league play, too.
“So the first time we got the group of 10 players together (for an organized game) was Saturday,” Grayson said earlier this week. “That was an exciting day — but it's really difficult for us, to be honest with you.
“We did OK in our scrimmage (against Connellsville Saturday), but that was the first time everyone played together, so I really don't know much about our team. Ask me (on opening night, Dec. 7), I'll have a better idea.”
Elizabeth Forward finished last season with a 13-11 record and won a preliminary round WPIAL playoff game after slipping into the postseason — but no starters returned, Grayson said.
But there's some talent. Guards Cody Palady, Jacob Como and Cary Lampkin and forward James Benedict are seniors who are among the Warriors' most experienced returnees. But it's the junior class that might hold the key to the team's success.
Jaquan Davidson is an athletic and versatile transfer from McKeesport, and 5-foot-6 point guard Jalen French is another transfer who has attended McKeesport in the past. Forwards Austin Matta (6-2) and Andrew Jacobs (6-6) and guard Bernie Bernakowski (5-11) are other juniors who figure to stand out.
“We plan on playing at least 11 or 12 guys,” Grayson said. “We're going to play constant pressure and a lot of guys will get a chance to play. It's a fun brand of basketball, up and down the court, having fun.”
Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers are in familiar territory going into training camp in Latrobe
- Liriano, Snider lift Pirates over Dodgers
- Rossi: Johnston must reach Malkin in Moscow
- New Penguins coach to meet with Malkin
- Pirates notebook: Recovering Cole exceeds expectations in simulated game
- United States proposes tougher rules for moving crude oil, ethanol by rail
- Fox Chapel football putting in preseason work
- Polamalu enters training camp as Steelers’ longest tenured player
- The Meadows to host 1st boxing card
- Late afternoon fire destroys Manor home
- Round up family and friends, it’s county fair season in Western Pennsylvania