McKeesport, Pa. - As the 2014-2015 winter sports come to a close, the Greater Allegheny Women's Basketball team has a lot to commend.
With only three returning players for the women's team Lou Zadecky leaned on his senior forward, Christina Floyd (Philadelphia, Pa./Sts. Neumann-Goretti), in making the six newcomers, five of them being freshman, feel welcomed while they were quickly introduced to a faster-paced game of collegiate basketball. "Adding six new players to a roster of only three returners was something I was definitely excited about" said Zadecky. "I am very fortunate that Christina chose to continue to come back after all the success we've had and be a strong leader for us."
Early in the season the Lady Lions battled hard as they visited some top PSAC teams like Edinboro and Slippery Rock in non-conference play. "Having these girls show their constant efforts to keep pushing through an entire 40 minutes of play was astonishing, especially when we traveled a few hours to each location and never played against these types of athletes before."
Aside from Floyd, who reached a tremendous milestone in her collegiate career by grabbing over 1,300 rebounds and 1,200 points, freshman guard Mandi Johnson (Pittsburgh, Pa./Baldwin) stepped up as co-captain and made a name for herself. Johnston, who started in all 23 games this season was a breakthrough player averaging 14.6 points per game as well as 36.3 minutes per 40 minutes of play. She also earned a total of 100 assists and was ranked in the top five players in the Penn State University Athletic Conference in several categories.
"Mandi was definitely a major asset throughout the season. She stepped up every game and was the constant voice on the court, for the entire game and even in practice. That motivated her team to play their absolute best," said Zadecky. "Coming back next year, I think she's going to be a more dominate force. She's definitely the person I will be building the team around, and I know she'll take on her captain role just as well as she did this year."
Another standout player stemming from the women's team is freshman point guard Teona Cash (McKeesport, Pa. / Woodland Hills). Cash joined the Lady Lions at the start of the spring semester and at only 5'3 she played as big as the team's post players. Cash was also recognized by the United States Collegiate Athletic Association as player of the week. "Teona definitely added fire to the team the second half of the semester," said Zadecky. "She came in and meshed well with the girls, adjusting to this style of basketball in such a short amount of time." Teona capped of her first year in a Greater Allegheny jersey with 90 total points, 86 rebounds and an average of 27.1 minutes per game.
Senior guard Nakayla Layne (Pittsburgh, Pa./Taylor Allderdice) was also a key component in the second half of the season. "Having Nakayla return to the team gave us that extra boost. She returned an even stronger player, and more focused than before," said Zadecky. "She was definitely one of the most improved players I have ever had the pleasure of coaching." Layne, who only played in 10 games, finished off her senior season shooting an astonishing 88% from the line, and averaging 10 points and seven rebounds per contest.
Once the regular season and conference play was in full effect, coach Zadecky constantly reminded his team what their goal and mission was for the remainder of the season. The Lady Lions would face rivalry teams such as Penn State Beaver, Fayette and Hazelton. "The competition this season was the strongest it has ever been, a true challenge for us to come together and play the best basketball we know how to play." The Lady Lions completed their season, 9-14 overall, 7-7 in PSUAC, missing a playoff position by one game. "To have the season end how it did was definitely a heartbreaker," expressed Zadecky. "But the newly established foundation that was created this year is more than enough to build an even stronger Penn State Greater Allegheny women's program for next season."
We commend the student-athletes and coaching staff of the Lady Lions this season and we are looking forward to the future growth and success next season.
Athletic Department Intern