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Basketball

Ford City girls basketball aims to close program on top

| Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014, 11:36 p.m.

For its final year, the Ford City girls basketball program gets a new challenge.

The Sabers, a perennial playoff team and often a threat to reach the PIAA tournament in Class AA, make the jump up to Class AAA for their final season, and coach Al Davis' squad has hopes of making noise in its last year before merging with Kittanning.

Davis is coaching a young squad, but some of those young players have experience, and the veteran coach hopes they will defend and run their way another playoff berth.

“We're athletic, but it will come down to how well we play as a team and play good basketball,” Davis said. “I think they'll hold their own this year.”

The Sabers will be led by versatile senior Christina Davis, who averaged 11.4 points and 5.6 rebounds last season.

She is Ford City's top returning player in virtually every statistic.

Her combination of height, shooting and ballhandling allows her to play every position.

“The only thing we're looking for from her is to score a little more. She can play inside and out, and I'm not going to try and keep her in any one position because she's too talented for that,” Al Davis said.

Ford City also returns sophomore guard Catie Cujas, who last year played big minutes in the team's sixth-player role.

Senior forward Tyree Freeman and sophomore guards Abbey DiGregorio and Taylor Wood all are in line for an uptick in their playing time from a year ago.

Junior Allison Good is a player Al Davis hopes to get strong defense from in her return from an ACL injury.

Freshman Kenzie Lasher also likely will be in the rotation.

“Once we've had some time to practice together and develop chemistry, I think we're going to be good,” Christina Davis said.

“We're young, and some of the girls don't have experience, but there's a lot of good girls out there.”

Now in Section 1-AAA, Al Davis knows his team will have a challenge battling longtime powers Hampton and Mars.

But Davis said he thinks his group can compete with those two and be in the mix with Knoch, Kittanning and Deer Lakes for a spot in the postseason.

A benefit of moving to Class AAA? The Sabers get section matchups with their rival Wildcats.

Those two meet in Kittanning on Jan. 12 and in Ford City for the season finale Feb. 5.

Many of the Sabers players — including Davis, Freeman, DiGregorio and Lasher — also were part of the school's WPIAL championship volleyball team.

“What I like is that we have 14 girls, and I think every one of them can contribute in one way or another,” Al Davis said. “The thing I like from the volleyball season is they became much better friends, and I hope the success carries over, but they're two different types of sports.”

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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