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Seton-La Salle girls basketball team hopes to duplicate state-championship season

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Seton-La Salle's Cassidy Walsh looks to pass during practice on Nov. 27, 2012.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review</em></div>Seton-La Salle's Cassidy Walsh looks to pass during practice on Nov. 27, 2012.
hristopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Erin Waskowiak - Bishop Canevin 2011 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Terrific 10 (C
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>hristopher Horner | Tribune-Review</em></div>Erin Waskowiak - Bishop Canevin  2011 Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Terrific 10 (C
istopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Naje Gibson of Seton-La Salle - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 2012 Terrific 10 Chr
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>istopher Horner | Tribune-Review</em></div>Naje Gibson of Seton-La Salle - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 2012 Terrific 10 Chr
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review - Jeannette's Ciara Gregory poses for a portrait.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review</em></div>Jeannette's Ciara Gregory poses for a portrait.
ibune-Review 2012 Terrific 10 Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review - Angela Heintz of Seton-La Salle - Pittsburgh Tr
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>ibune-Review 2012 Terrific 10 Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review</em></div>Angela Heintz of Seton-La Salle - Pittsburgh Tr

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who 2 watch

preseason player of the year


Bishop Canevin

5-11, Jr., G

20.4 ppg

players to watch


Steel Valley

5-11, Sr., F, 15.9 ppg


Seton-La Salle

5-11, Jr., F, 16.7 ppg



5-7, Sr., G, 26.7 ppg


Seton-La Salle

5-10, Sr., G, 13.3 ppg


Seton-La Salle

5-7, So., PG, 7.5 ppg

preseason top 10

1. Seton-La Salle (30-0)

New coach John Ashaolu inherits four returning starters for defending state champs.

2. Bishop Canevin (22-6)

Four starters return for WPIAL runner-up, including 5-10 senior forward Carly Forse.

3. Deer Lakes (17-5)

Becca Babincak among three seniors, but 11 underclassmen could provide depth.

4. Burrell (18-5)

Guard Sydney Bordonaro (13.0 ppg) was an all-section performer last year for the Bucs.

5. OLSH (15-9)

Three starters return, including junior all-section forward Tia Sciulli (11 ppg).

6. Jeannette (13-9)

Senior Ciara Gregory can score 30-plus a night, making the Jayhawks a contender.

7. Greensburg C.C. (17-7)

Will miss Karly Mellinger, who transferred to Greensburg Salem.

8. Steel Valley (19-7)

Senior forward C.C. Dixon, a Cal. U recruit, carried the team to the PIAA tournament last year.

9. Riverside (16-7)

Even without grad Sam Weir and her 18 ppg, the Panthers are a Section 2 favorite.

10. McGuffey (11-11)

Sophomore Sammie Weiss was an all-section selection.

section favorites

section 1

Deer Lakes

After winning the past two section titles, Deer Lakes returns as the favorite but will be challenged by a young and offensively talented Burrell team. Becca Babincak (15.0 ppg) leads Deer Lakes, while Sydney Bordonaro (13.0 ppg) paces Burrell.

section 2


Senior guard Alex Deep averaged 15.8 ppg for Riverside, but Beaver Falls also returns guard Ayana Vaughn (15.0 ppg), who could help the Tigers compete. Beaver Falls will miss all-section forward Kiana Law (11 ppg), who transferred to Central Valley. Mohawk returns four starters, including guard Shelby Brown (11.6 ppg).

section 3


The Jayhawks fell short of reaching a third straight WPIAL title game last year but could get there this season, led by the scoring of senior guard Ciara Gregory, a UNC Charlotte recruit who averaged 26.7 ppg last year. Three starters return for Greensburg Central, including point guard Carolyn Appleby and 6-1 forward Devon Larkin.

section 4

Seton-La Salle

Winners of the past two WPIAL titles and last year's PIAA championship, the Rebels have eight players receiving Division I interest, including Duquesne recruits Angela Heinz and Cassidy Walsh. Bishop Canevin's Erin Waskowiak is also headed to Duquesne after averaging 20.4 ppg.

section 5


Dropping down from AAA this year, McGuffey should contend for the section crown, led by sophomore all-section guard Sammie Weiss (19 ppg). Bentworth went 18-4 and won the section last year but graduated Jessica Dorazio (21.5 ppg) and Darcy Bostich (12 ppg).

section 6


A backcourt of Jackie Mathews and Emilee Gallagher will be aided by all-section forward Tia Sciulli (11 ppg) and 6-1 forward Heidi Langhorst. Avonworth qualified for the state playoffs last year but graduated forward Lauren Mayernick.

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Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, 11:56 p.m.

More than a month had passed since Dennis Squeglia resigned as Seton-La Salle's girls basketball coach, after an undefeated season capped by a PIAA championship.

The Rebels were sitting in the school library when they were told to look toward the door for Squeglia's successor.

Expecting someone to make a grand entrance, they instead got a smile and a wave from athletic director John Ashalou.

Seton-La Salle returns all but one starter from a team that went 30-0, but the Rebels' biggest challenge might be developing the chemistry to duplicate the feat.

“The change of head coach was definitely a lot for our team to cope with, because (Squeglia) was such a good coach,” said senior guard Angela Heintz, a Duquesne recruit. “(Ashalou's) really knowledgeable about the game and has a lot of basketball experience.”

Ashalou only has himself to blame for an ambitious schedule that has the Rebels playing a pair of PIAA runners-up, North Catholic and Oakland Catholic, followed by WPIAL Class AAAA champion Mt. Lebanon and traditional power Villa Maria Academy in the first week of the season.

“I was just the athletic director when I put it together,” Ashalou said. “Now, as AD and coach, I'm wondering what I was thinking.

“You think, ‘Yeah, we're ready for it.' Now, we've got some new girls in the program. We've got to get them to buy in to fit as a team. It is an arduous schedule, so to say.”

“Dennis did a great job and is a great coach. He went 30-0, and a lot of people ask me, ‘How do you do better than that?' I'd rather coach a team with expectations than not.”

If the Rebels can survive that, they are the odds-on favorite to repeat as WPIAL and PIAA champions, if not break the WPIAL record of 56 consecutive victories set by North Catholic from 1987-89.

Seton-La Salle returns starters in Heintz, 6-2 senior center Natalie Piagessi, 6-foot junior forward Naje Gibson and sophomore point guard Cassidy Walsh, as well as senior forward Katherine Hart and sophomore shooting guard Nicolette Newman. The Rebels added 6-2 sophomore Morgan Henderson, a transfer from Texas, and are awaiting an eligibility ruling on talented 5-9 junior Yacine Diop, a Senegal native who transferred from Oak Hill Academy.

“It's really harder for us this year because there's a lot more pressure on us,” Heintz said.

“Last year, we lost six seniors from the year before and there weren't the expectations. This year, everybody wants to beat us, to be the team that gives us that loss.”

Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 412-320-7812.

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