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Yough's girls basketball team hopes to rediscover success

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Derry's Katerina Hamerski drives to the hoop against Yough's Natalie Peebles during a game at Derry on Monday, January 3, 2011.
Top high school sports
By Brian Hunger
Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, 10:04 p.m.
 

Last season was not very kind to the Yough girls basketball team.

After a promising 2-1 start, things quickly spiraled out of control.

A rash of injuries kept many of its players on the sideline for much of the year, and the end result was a drastic lack of scoring and a struggling defense.

The Cougars finished 0-12 in Section 3-AAA and 5-16 overall.

With last season behind them, Coach Greg Melvin is optimistic this year's team will be better. While he's anticipating the scoring to increase some, his focus for the team is on defense, and in general, becoming a more well-balanced team.

The Cougars' attack will be led by 5-foot-11 junior forward Natalie Peebles, who is the lone returning starter and has the potential to be an all-conference-type player.

“She's a really strong player,” Melvin said. “Natalie is fundamentally sound and a very good, natural athlete. She's not real vocal, but the other players look up to her as a leader, which isn't always common for an underclassman. She works very hard every day.”

Peebles, who was named to the all-conference volleyball team, has the potential to lead the team in scoring and rebounding.

Melvin is also looking at guards Emily Campbell and Shailynn Copeland, part-time starters a year ago, to fill bigger roles this season. According to Melvin, both improved greatly in the offseason.

“They got some valuable playing time last year,” Melvin said. “With the situation we got in (injuries), several of our underclassmen played a lot of minutes.”

With four new starters on board and a very challenging conference slate ahead, Melvin realizes the team could see some growing pains.

He's confident, however, the Cougars can improve their win total from a year ago.

“Hopefully, we're going to be more competitive,” he said. “This is a really strong section — Uniontown, Mt. Pleasant, Greensburg Salem — those are all very strong programs. The girls are working hard, and I think we can snag a few games.”

Yough tips off its season Friday night in the Southmoreland Tournament against the host Scotties.

“We're looking to hang our hats on our defensive play,” Melvin said. “In this conference, you have to be able to score but also play at a high level on the defensive end.”

Brian Hunger is a freelance writer.

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