It wasn’t a storybook ending for the Pittston Area girls basketball team last season. A pair of losses to Scranton Prep and Holy Redeemer capped a pretty good season.
But the team returning to the court in Yatesville looks awfully similar.
Pittston Area returns four starters from a team that just missed its first state playoff appearance a year ago.
Leading those four starters is point guard Allie Barber, and swing player Liz Waleski. Barber, who is coming off an All-State soccer season, will guide an offense that doesn’t have that one key player. Each player will contribute on the offensive end, according to Healey.
Waleski and Barber have each started since they were freshmen. Now, as seniors, their experience is back.
“They both bring a lot of basketball knowledge to our team and they are great defenders,” Healey said. “They work hard.”
Along with Barber and Waleski returning, Pittston Area will welcome back Eastin Ashby and Jacqueline Rabender. Both of those players earned extensive time on the court last season.
Rabender is one of those players that doesn’t get a whole lot of press. But Healey loves the way she plays.
“She works hard and she would run through a wall for you,” Healey said. “She rebounds well and does all the little things.”
Ashby broke into the lineup after she came over from Scranton Prep last season.
But it doesn’t end there.
The Patriots go 10 deep, Healey said. And with an offense and defense that will be up-tempo, to say the least, that’s a good thing.
Tarin Ashby, Marly O’Brien and Jordan Fritz can all be that player that provides spark at any given time. That will help the Patriots’ up-temp game. Ali Brady, who saw significant playing time last season, will be in the mix as well.
“If someone’s in foul trouble, we won’t run into trouble,” Healey said. “We pass very well and everyone sees the open player. You can’t pick one person on this team that’s the go-to player.”
Defensively, the Patriots will look to pressure their opponents from start to finish. The 10-player rotation will certainly help with that. Healey made a point to say that if you struggle offensively, “But anyone can play defense.”
Last season, the Patriots made it to the semifinals of District 2, after posting a 12-2 record in the Wyoming Valley Conference. The lost the conference championship game to Dallas - a game which was tied at halftime.
Healey expects Dallas, Hazleton and Crestwood to be back near the top of the WVC. But lets not count out her Patriots.
“I think our league is really well balanced,” Healey said. “Every night is going to be a dog fight. There are no easy games. It’s going to be just like last year. Every night was a tight game. That will be the case this year.”
Whether or not Healey can get her Patriots back to the 20-win mark this season will have to play out on the court. But that doesn’t mean the team can’t have goals.
“We definitely want to be over .500,” Healey said. “We have the ability to make a statement and we should be one of the top teams in the league. That’s what we expect. That’s the Pittston Area mantra.”