Dixon looks to lead Steel Valley to playoffs

| Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, 11:35 p.m.

C.C. Dixon is one of the WPIAL's finest girls' basketball players but has spent most of her high school career surrounded by older, complimentary players who helped her become a star.

In her senior season — at least in the early going — Dixon might have to carry Steel Valley like never before.

Coach Kelly Sabo's team lost four starters to graduation last season, with only Dixon remaining. The senior is a star, and Steel Valley figures to rely heavily on her when the season begins Friday.

“But I have all the confidence in the world in her,” Sabo said. “She's such of a great player, and she's become a lot more vocal, more of a leader. She can do it all for us.”

Dixon is nearly 6 feet tall and a supreme athlete. A four-year starter, she was dominant even in her freshman campaign.

She's only gotten better since then.

The forward has ability to explode to the basket, hit jump shots and incorporate her teammates. She has also become a terrific defender, while her size and athleticism make Dixon one of the WPIAL's finest rebounders.

It's safe to say, as far as Sabo is concerned, there isn't much Dixon can't do on the basketball court.

It turns out she's getting pretty good off the court, too.

“I can't say enough about her and the player that she has become,” Sabo said. “She's worked hard to get better and better. She's a really special player for us.”

Led by Dixon and a host of experienced players, Steel Valley took a giant leap forward last season by reaching the WPIAL semifinals and the PIAA postseason.

Sabo believes her current squad is capable of much success, but is trying to temper the enthusiasm around the program. After all, four new starters are surrounding Dixon.

“It's going to take a while for this team to be as good as it can be and to grow some chemistry,” Sabo said. “I do think there's a lot of talent on this team, and we should get better as the game goes on. We just want to make the playoffs. That's the goal every year. Once you get into the playoffs, anything can happen.”

Although Dixon's supporting cast will be particularly young this season, Sabo sees considerable potential on her young roster.

Senior Sydney Smith has the potential to give Steel Valley a potent second option.

“She's a great athlete,” Sabo said.

The Steel Valley boys will attempt to turn around their fortunes from last season.

Head coach Shawn McCallister's team has been a WPIAL postseason regular during his tenure but was an ordinary 9-9 last season.

Making matters worse, Steel Valley lost seven seniors from last season's team.

Still, both Steel Valley teams have designs on having quality seasons, and in Dixon, the girls team possesses a real star.

“She's just so good at so many things,” Sabo said. “It's going to be fun watching her this season.”

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jyohe@tribweb.com.

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