Uniontown’s Mya Murray had many opportunities to play basketball at a prep school throughout her time in high school, but the Lady Red Raider senior remained committed to her hometown and recently wrapped up an outstanding career.
As a result, Murray has been named the Herald-Standard All-Area Girls Basketball Team’s Overall Player of the Year.
Murray, who signed a letter-of-intent to play for Brown University prior to her senior campaign, scored 515 points this past season for an average of 23.4 per game in the regular season, which was second in the WPIAL, and tops among local players — including boys. Murray was the seventh-leading scorer in the state.
She also pulled down 266 rebounds for an average of 12 a game. Murray scored 1,363 points and had 1,028 rebounds in her career. She was first-team, all-section and named to the Roundball Classic.
Murray was a constant team player, as she brought the ball up court for head coach Penny Kezmarsky, and also showed the ability to hit the outside shot. Uniontown continued to improve as the season progressed, and keyed a 48-42 victory over playoff-bound Penn Hills on Jan. 27.
As for the Herald-Standard Coach of the Year, there are two — Brian Pritts of Southmoreland and Jordan Watson of West Greene — who share this honor for guiding their teams to surprising undefeated regular seasons.
Southmoreland lost a key starter to graduation from last year and another to a transfer early in the season but all the Lady Scotties did was win every game up until the WPIAL final, which they reached for the first time in school history, falling to juggernaut North Catholic.
Southmoreland added a first ever appearance and win in the PIAA playoffs before wrapping up the program’s best season with a 25-2 record.
Many thought West Greene’s run as a dominant team in Class A was over with the graduation of an outstanding senior class that included three 1,000-point scorers and a roster that had zero seniors.
Watson knew the cupboard wasn’t bare, though, and took his team of underclassmen to the Petersen Events Center for the WPIAL championship game a third year in a row where it lost to top-seeded Rochester.
West Greene made the PIAA tournament for the fourth consecutive year and ended the season with a 24-2 record, amazingly besting the 2019 squad that went 22-4.
While Murray was the overall and Class 5A/6A Player of the Year, two other players were also recognized as Players of the Year, Southmoreland’s Sarah Pisula in Class 3A/4A and West Greene’s Jersey Wise in Class 1A/2A.
Pisula wasn’t one of the area’s leading scorers but she was one of its best all-around players and a great leader for the Lady Scotties. The senior averaged 7.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.9 steals and 2.2 blocked shots per game, and was her team’s best defender, usually guarding the opponent’s top offensive threat.
Wise averaged 19.6 points per game and was another player who could do it all, whether it be hitting a 3-pointer, driving to the basket or coming up with a steal in the Lady Pioneers’ vaunted Press Greene defense. She was the best player on one of the district’s best teams.
Following is the complete Herald-Standard All-Area Girls Basketball Team:
Players of the Year
Mya Murray, Uniontown (23.4 ppg, 12 rpg)
Sarah Pisula, Southmoreland (7.9 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.9 spg, 2.2 bpg))
Jersey Wise, West Greene (19.6 ppg)
Coaches of the Year
Brian Pritts, Southmoreland, and Jordan Watson, West Greene
Honorable Mention: Chris Niemiec, California; Ron Drennen, Belle Vernon; Janine Vertacnik, Monessen; Bill Wagner, Charleroi; Patty Columbia, Brownsville.
All-Area Elite Status
Albert Gallatin: Bryn Bezjak
Belle Vernon: Rachel Wobrak
Beth-Center: Olivia Greco
Brownsville: Emma Seto
California: Makayla Boda
Charleroi: Bella Skobel
Frazier: Sierra Twigg
Monessen: Qitarah Hardison
Southmoreland: Olivia Cernuto, Gracie Spadaro
Waynesburg Central: Clara Paige Miller
West Greene: Anna Durbin, Elizabeth Brudnock
All-Area Second Team
Albert Gallatin: Abby King, Olivia Miller
Belle Vernon: Jenna Dawson
Bentworth: Caroline Rice
Beth-Center: Anna Sloan, Elizabeth Trump
Brownsville: Sai Waqanivalu, Chloe Wright, Aniya Tarpley
Carmichaels: Kylie Sinn, Sophia Zalar
Connellsville: Sara Aumer
Elizabeth Forward: Anna Resnik
Frazier: Kaelyn Shaporka
Geibel Catholic: Gayle Pokol
Jefferson-Morgan: Autumn Gustovich
Laurel Highlands: Journey Greer
Mapletown: Krista Wilson
Monessen: Sydney Caterino
Mount Pleasant: Ali Bailey
Ringgold: Nya Adams
Southmoreland: Charity Henderson, Erica Sherbondy
Uniontown: Abby Bellina
Yough: Laney Gerdich
All-Area Honorable Mention
Albert Gallatin: Gianna Michaux
Belle Vernon: Viva Kreis, Farrah Reader, Taylor Rodriguez
Bentworth: Laura Vittone
Beth-Center: Maddy Hunyady
Brownsville: Aubri Hogsett
California: Charlee Petrucci, Sydney Smichnick, Ca’Mari Walden
Carmichaels: Emma Hyatt, Mia Ranieri
Charleroi: Cierra Gazi, Hannah Keranko, Kaitlyn Wagner
Connellsville: Heather Ansell, Baileigh Bishop
Elizabeth Forward: Abigail Bickerton, Bailie Brinson, Haven Briggs, Brooke Markland
Frazier: Lindsey Somers
Geibel Catholic: Morgan Sandzimier
Jefferson-Morgan: Abby Ankrom, Savannah Clark
Laurel Highlands: Alessandra Peccon
Mapletown: Taylor Dusenberry
Monessen: Mercedes Major, Kendelle Weston
Mount Pleasant: Tiffany Zelmore
Ringgold: Martina Costa, Kyela Dungee
Southmoreland: Maddie Moore, Delaynie Morvosh, Carlie Collins
Uniontown: Karsyn Chiado
Waynesburg Central: Jules Fowler, Nina Sarra
West Greene: Brooke Barner, Katie Lampe, Emma Mankey, Kaitlyn Walls
Yough: Kaylynn Odelli.
Rob Burchianti contributed to this story.