If last year involved frustration, this season has been special for GAR.
The Grenadiers lost a play-in game for the District 2 playoffs 12 months ago. This season, with an open tournament in front of them, the Grenadiers are playing well and challenging for the Division III championship.
It's their teamwork, their determination and their dedication to each other, GAR coach Hattie Caruso said of the recipe of success this season. They are just working hard every game. I'm very happy with this team.
GAR needed just 10 games this season to match last year's win total. The starting five – Breana Mosier, Marena Spence, Julianna Leco, Majeedah Neely and Brea Seabrook – all have had games of at least 14 points, making them all dangerous on the offensive end of the court. They swarm to the ball on the defensive side of the court.
Marie Skrepnak adds height off the bench, as well as another offensive threat.
Brea Seabrook is doing an amazing job for us, Caruso said of the sophomore, her leading scorer at 14 points per game. With the help of her teammates, she has really emerged. They are all contributing.
We have more wins because they want to make a difference. They want to be in control out there.
SAN FRANCISCO TREAT: Hazleton Area has added Juliet Courtney, a 5-8 sophomore transfer from San Francisco to its lineup.
Coach Joe Gavio used Courtney in junior varsity and varsity her first two games to give her a chance to learn the Hazleton Area system. She is quickly giving an indication she is going to be a bigger factor down the stretch.
In Tuesday's 58-54 loss to Pittston Area, Courtney was one of the first two subs, entering the game midway through the first quarter.
Courtney is taller than all five Cougars starters, but offensively, she is a bigger factor from the perimeter, where she took a team-high 15 shots Tuesday.
Courtney made two three-pointers and had eight of the team's 22 points in the middle two quarters. She also grabbed five rebounds.
She's blending in well, Gavio said of Courtney, who was away from basketball for two weeks because of the move. She's going to make us a better team.
She has a nice feel for the game.
Courtney started the second half and overtime against Pittston Area and played a total of 24:22 before fouling out in just her second game with the team. The Cougars are 2-1 with her in the lineup. She's averaging 10.7 points and has seven threes in her three games.
THE RACES: Division I still has five teams with a shot at the title with two weeks to go.
Crestwood, Dallas and Pittston Area have two losses, Hazleton Area has three losses and Wyoming Valley West has four.
It feels great, Pittston Area's Allie Barber said of tying for the lead after beating Dallas 54-46 on Thursday. I can't wait to finish this season and start the playoffs. We need to continue playing well, we have to stay focused each game. I love this.
Big games this week include Hazleton Area at Dallas on Monday, while Thursday sees Crestwood at Pittston Area and Wyoming Valley West at Hazleton Area.
In Division II, Holy Redeemer and Nanticoke each have one loss in the WVC, with Lake-Lehman right behind with two. Lehman is at Holy Redeemer on Monday night.
The Division III race sees GAR and Hanover Area tied with four WVC losses. They play Thursday night at GAR.
KNOWN COMMODITY: Talia Szatkowski has blossomed for coach Kelly Johnson at Dallas, becoming a dangerous weapon on a well-balanced team.
Her game is a little bit slasher, a little bit shooter, mixed with a touch of playing larger than 5-foot-6 frame.
Szatkowski averaged 5.4 points during the first 10 games this season. In the last five, she's averaging 12 points per contest – tops on the Mountaineers.
Against Pittston Area on Thursday, she had 13 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals. Patriots coach Kathy Healey was glad the damage by Szatkowski was limited.
I coach Talia in AAU and I'll tell you, she's tough as nails, Healey said. (Pittston Area starters) Allie (Barber) and Liz (Waleski) play on the same team with her. I know everything about Talia. She's great.
Tom Robinson contributed to this report.