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Preview: District 9 Girls’ Basketball Has Different Look in 2016-17

SHIPPENVILLE, Pa. (D9Sports) – A new season is upon us in District 9 girls’ basketball, and with it comes changes to classifications and coaches and one less team in the district.

(Cover photo: Leah Miller and the Punxsutawney Lady Chucks look for more championship gear in 2017)

Let’s start with the one less team.

Venango Catholic was unable to field a team this year because of low numbers in the school resulting from the Erie Diocese announcement last year that the school would close – the diocese later reversed that decision. VC players are being given the option to play in a co-op with District 10’s Rocky Grove.

The absence of the Lady Vikings, just two years removed from a District 9 1A title, isn’t the only change this season.

For starters, even before the season starts Clarion knows it won’t be able to field a junior varsity team, and other schools are also in jeopardy of not having enough players to play JV putting into questions the long-term sustainability of programs without co-ops.

Also, the PIAA expanded this year from four classifications to six classifications meaning more opportunities for District 9 teams to gain a PIAA playoff berth. The district now has eight automatic berths and two additional chances to gain berths through play-in or subregional games.

The berths break down as follows: four in Class 1A, three in Class 2A and one in Class 4A with Class 3A playing a subregional with District 8 (Pittsburgh City League) and Class 5A playing a subregional with Districts 6 and 8.

Here are the classification breakdowns:

Class 1A (15 teams)
A-C Valley, Austin, Brockway, Cameron County, DuBois Central Catholic, Elk County Catholic, Forest Area, Johnsonburg, North Clarion, Northern Potter, Oswayo Valley, Otto-Eldred, Sheffield, Smethport and Union.

Class 2A (10 teams)
Clarion, Clarion-Limestone, Coudersport, Cranberry, Curwensville, Kane, Keystone, Port Allegany, Redbank Valley and Ridgway.

Class 3A (3 teams)
Brookville, Karns City and Moniteau

Class 4A (4 teams)
Bradford, Clearfield, Punxsutawney and St. Marys

Class 5A (1 team)

New Coaches

There are also five new coaches in District 9 this season.

At Clarion-Limestone, Gus Simpson takes over for Brad Frazier, who is now the athletic director. In Curwensville, Jocelyn Bash replaces Erik Duriancik, while at Johnsonburg Mike King steps in for Ellie Kocjancic with Kyle Gordon replacing Stacy Kifer in nearby Ridgway. Long-time Port Allegany head coach Kristina Francis has also stepped aside and is replaced by former Gators’ boys’ coach Jason Luther.

View preseason All-District Team

Team-by-Team Look

What follows is a team-by-team look in capsule format. Coaches were asked to name their top returning players, their top newcomers and the key(s) to their season. Teams are listed in alphabetical order.

Head Coach: Dave Sherman
2015-16 record: 9-13
Top returning players: Ellie Thompson, Olivia Boocks, Kylee Eaton, Cami McNany, Annie Viertel, Brooke Irwin, Emma Fox, Allison Sherman
Key newcomers: None
Coach’s key to the season: Limit turnovers and make good decisions. Execute our offense

Head Coach: Kurt Logue
2015-16 record: 0-22
Top returning players: Madison Hooftallen, Jade McKearnan, Alyson Rotelllo, Rylee Hooftallen, Jordan Brewer
Key newcomers: None – All new players are on junior varsity some new to the game
Coach’s key to the season: Better defense and more scoring opportunities. Should have a fairly solid bench

Head Coach: Bob Hannon
2015-16 record: 11-13
Top returning players: Bri Wells, Brinya Moffet, Taylor Smith
Key newcomers: None given but he says to have success, the Lady Owls will have to get contributions from all of their newcomers.
Coach’s key to the season: Key to the season will be how the younger players adapt to the varsity game. We will need strong play from our returning players and strong contributions from the rest of our tea,

Head Coach: Dick Esposito
2015-16 record: 5-16
Top returning players: Leah Lindemuth, Kaitlyn Morelli, Katlyn Cappetta, Adriana Azzato, Leigha Pertz
Key newcomers: Maggie Schmader (So.), Gabby Sabatose (So.), Shaughney Richardson (Fr.)
Coach’s key to the season: Keys to the season will be our speed, conditioning, defensive pressure and veteran leadership.

Head Coach: Mark Powell
2015-16 record: 12-11
Top returning players: Brooke Shattenberg, Laken Hergert, Lexis Hatzinikolas, Jillian Taylor.
Key newcomers: Marcy Shindler (Fr.), Jenna Grant (So.)
Coach’s key to the season: Defense, defense, defense

Head Coach: Dave Sullivan
2015-16 record: 7-15
Top returning players: Madie Guisto, Maddison Harrier, Amy Schatz
Key newcomers: None mentioned
Coach’s key to the season: Senior leadership, how well we play together as a team and how well last year’s freshman class can contribute at the varsity level. Three members of last year’s freshmen class all played significant varsity minutes including starting a number of games. How well that experience carries over for Alivia McKimm, Kamme Guisto and Laila Smith will weigh heavily in our success. All three have the potential to make significant impacts in their sophomore seasons.

Head Coach: Tracy Durish
2015-16 record: 13-11
Top returning players: Gloria Kroh, Alexis Constantino, Wendy Beveridge
Key newcomers: Kaylee Lutz (So.), Kate Constantino (Fr.), KK Girvan (Fr.), Ali Troese (So.), Cassie Acey (So.)
Coach’s key to the season: Working together, building confidence and developing young players

Head Coach: Gus Simpson
2015-16 record: 2-20
Top returning players: Paige Aaron, Maddy Craig, Anna Burns, Morgan Clark
Key newcomers: Ashley Dougherty (So.), Jess Ball (Jr.), Rachel Greeley (So.).
Coach’s key to the season: Growth, mentally and physically. We want to play with a lot of heart.

Head Coach: Joey Castagnolo
2015-16 record: 10-13
Top returning players: Ally Lindstrom, Niki Chew, Nikki Brossard, Brooke Cline and Alayna Ryan
Key newcomers: None
Coach’s key to the season: We need to stay injury-free because our bench is so young. With our quickness we should be able to run on anybody.

Head Coach: Chris Fink
2015-16 record: 22-4
Top returning players: Haley Keck, Allie Easton, Macy Gleason, Kiara Perkins, EmmaRae Easton, Skyler Van Wagenen, Torie Crosby, Alyssa Wood, Shae Black
Key newcomers: None listed
Coach’s key to the season: Remaining hungry every night despite the success many of these girls had last year. We have a pretty tough schedule and have to be ready to play every night.

Head Coach: Carrie Melat
2015-16 record: 9-13
Top returning players: Erin Merryman, Malliah Schreck, Bree Swartzfager
Key newcomers: Hard to say right now.
Coach’s key to the season: Defensive intensity and creating offense from our defense; uptempo pace

Head Coach: Jocelyn Bash
2015-16 record: 3-19
Top returning players: Hannah Dixon, Christine Limbert, Nikki Wormuth
Key newcomers: Tarah Jacobson (Fr.), Brittany Wagner (So.), Madison Weber (So.), Maddie McCracken (Jr.), Mikayla (Jr.)
Coach’s key to the season: Working together. The girls are handling changes in coaching and rosters in a positive way, and I’m excited about or team.

Head Coach: Keith Kriner
2015-16 record: 10-13
Top returning players: Laura Fatula, Ashley Hallowell, Chelsea DeSalve
Key newcomers: None
Coach’s key to the season: We need to develop good defense and come together and play as a team. We will have to use our athleticism to compete. We also need to stay healthy and avoid injuries because we once again have low numbers.

Head Coach: Mike Nesbit
2015-16 record: 16-9
Top returning players: Jordy Frank, Riley Assalone
Key newcomers: Alyssa Bittner, Ashley Wruble
Coach’s key to the season: Offensive consistency, rebounding and pressure defense

Head Coach: Ken Pistner
2015-16 record: 13-14
Top returning players: Reilly Herzing,Cassidy Cunningham
Key newcomers: Taylor Newton (Fr.)
Coach’s key to the season: Developing good team chemistry and blending our talent with the style of ball we want to play.

Head Coach: Staci Blair
2015-16 record: 5-16
Top returning players: Bianca Hetrick
Key newcomers: Makiya Belloti (Jr.), Emily Everett (Jr.), Rose Trivett (Jr.), Cassie Cochran (Jr.), Glory Wagner (Jr.), Jasmine Ginnery (So.)
Coach’s key to the season: Working together as a team. Improving each practice and game

Head Coach: Mike King
2015-16 record: 12-12
Top returning players: Nicole Myers, Cassidy King
Key newcomers: Samantha Jacobs (Fr.), Haley Cherry (Fr.), Maria Jones (Fr.)
Coach’s key to the season: Take it game-by-game and getting better every day. Running a new offense and defense than last year with a new staff and see where we are at the end of the year.

Head Coach: Dave Kiehl
2015-16 record: 16-10
Top returning players: Camryn Cummings, Rachael Morgan, Trinity Clark, Ella Marconi
Key newcomers: 6 solid freshmen will help everyone improve
Coach’s key to the season: Keep improving our game. We improved tremendously last season. Stay healthy

Head Coach: Dave Kerschbaumer
2015-16 record: 24-3 (District 9 2A Champions)
Top returning players: Alyssa Gibson, Emily Hegedus, Mackenzie Craig
Key newcomers: Haley Scherer
Coach’s key to the season: Defense, defense, defense.

Head Coach: Barry Foust
2015-16 record: 19-8 (District 9 1A Champions)
Top returning players: McKenzie Hovis, Taylor Geer, Kaci Weaver, Alyssa Beichner, McKenzie Byerley, Tessa Weaver (out at start of season with injury)
Key newcomers: Danica Hurelbrink (Jr.), Alyssa Dunlap
Coach’s key to the season: Stay healthy. We have to slow the ball down and have a few more possessions offensively and be a better team defensively. But we still want to score a bit.

Head Coach: Dee Arblaster
2015-16 record: 16-9
Top returning players: Kristina DeMatteis, Alazia Greaves, Sara Hull, Emma Bair
Key newcomers: Cambrie Campbell (Jr.), Andie Arblaster (So.), Izzy Bair (So.), Kristen Auvil (Fr.)
Coach’s key to the season: Consistency

Head Coach: Terry Dreihaup
2015-16 record: 22-5
Top returning players: Tori Obenrader, Michaela Higgins, Cassie Wagner
Key newcomers: Ally Carll (Sr.), Gabby Carll (So.), Abby Gatesman (Fr.), Gabby Schmader (Fr.)
Coach’s key to the season: Getting everyone involved on offense, improving our turnover numbers and defense

Head Coach: Cindy Cowburn
2015-16 record: 17-6
Top returning players: Gracie Hamilton, Kalie Cowburn
Key newcomers: Mikayla Lewis (Jr.), Abbi Anderson (So.)
Coach’s key to the season: Executing our offense. Utilizing all 5 player son the floor. Staying Healthy

Head Coach: Kelly Rice
2015-16 record: 8-14
Top returning players: No response
Key newcomers: No response
Coach’s key to the season: No response

Head Coach: Bard Close
2015-16 record: 13-10
Top returning players: Tiffany Bair, Camryn Thomas, Allison Cousins, Alyssa Shelander.
Key newcomers: None mentioned
Coach’s key to the season: We will be returning with team leadership from senior captain Tiffany Bair and a strong core of experienced juniors and hard-working sophomores. This tight-knit group of team-minded athletes are excited to help each other achieve their goals in the 2016-17 season.

Head Coach: Jason Luther
2015-16 record: 6-16
Top returning players: Autumn Buchsenschutz, Emily Buchsenschutz, Marianna Seefeldt, Hannah Lathrop, Brianna Roys, Leah Garzel, Erin Stauffer, Jenna Sprankle, Cierra Lannager, Betty Hooftallen, Marissa Stepp.
Key newcomers: None mentioned
Coach’s key to the season: Togetherness, doing all the little things, being a great teammate, bettering our best, competing.

Head Coach: Mike Carlson
2015-16 record: 20-5 (District 9 3A Champions)
Top returning players: Leah Miller, Alli Lunger, Morgan Vanleer
Key newcomers: Elyse White (Jr.), Kate Horner (So.)
Coach’s key to the season: Developing depth and playing at a quicker pace

Head Coach: Amy Twigg
2015-16 record: 15-8
Top returning players: Macy King, Kera Fink, Alyssa Wiant, Lexi Holt
Key newcomers: Ali Shumaker (Sr.), Maddy Marshall (Jr.), Tara Hinderliter (Fr.)
Coach’s key to the season: We need all the girls on the court to be a scoring threat. Three more more girls in double digits each game would be great.

Head Coach: Kyle Gordon
2015-16 record: 9-14
Top returning players: Emily Fullem, Hannah Park
Key newcomers: Alyssa Kasmerski (So.), Karley LaBenne (Jr.), Kasey Woodford, Josie Benninger (Jr.).
Coach’s key to the season: We’re just pushing for unity and good team chemistry. We have a good cast of athletes. It’s a matter of putting it together.

Head Coach: Leona Ho’ohuli
2015-16 record: 14-9
Top returning players: Rachelle Armanini, Caitlyn Bankovich, Michelle Bauer
Key newcomers: Kaylee Muccio (Fr.), Megan Quesenberry (Fr.)
Coach’s key to the season: Value the basketball, rebound, high level of energy and effort and productive minutes from our young players.

Head Coach: Brandon Troutman
2015-16 record: 0-22
Top returning players: Sierra Grubbs, Mya Grubbs, Eliza Davidson, Lexi Lyon, Destiny Wynn
Key newcomers: Marissa Grubbs (Fr.), Hannah Pierce (Fr.), Rosemary Nelson (Fr.), Ashley Frederick (Fr.)
Coach’s key to the season: Putting points on the scoreboard and playing better ball in transition

Head Coach: Eric Lutz
2015-16 record: 13-10
Top returning players: Abbey Woodard, Emily Treat, Katie Treat
Key newcomers: None listed
Coach’s key to the season: How the other five players on varsity contribute, plus, with only 11 players we have to stay healthy.

Head Coach: Lacey Magagnotti
2015-16 record: 11-13
Top returning players: Lexey Shick, Frankee Remmick, Hannah Atzeni
Key newcomers: Bryn Davis (So.)
Coach’s key to the season: Staying healthy, keeping out of foul trouble, being aggressive and causing turnovers, staying positive

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