Lady Pioneers apply pressure

John F. Brothers | Herald-Standard

John F. Brothers Carmichaels’ Shelby McCann (11) tries to gain control of the basketball against West Greene.

Kylie Sinn is the lone returning starter for Carmichaels’ girls basketball team this season.

If there is a player for the rest of the Lady Mikes to look up to, the junior guard/forward is the perfect one, according to third-year coach Ian McCombs.

“Kylie is a leader by example,” McCombs said. “She’s not the most vocal but she’s the kind of player the other girls look to for consistent effort, reliability, someone who’s always on time, and a model student. She’s the type of student-athlete that any coach would love to have.”

Sinn is Carmichaels’ top returning scorer as the Lady Mikes lost starters Megan Walker, Kristina Aeschbacher, Jessica Phillips and Jadyn Barnish to graduation.

Shelby McCann is another returning player.

“Shelby is a senior guard/forward who would’ve been a key asset for us last season but she was slowed down by an injury,” McCombs said. “She started coming along during the second half of the year.”

McCombs will counting on a pair of sophomores to play a bigger role this season as well.

“Emma Holoran was one of our top players off the bench last year and is a point guard, and Emma Hyatt is at center,” McCombs said.

“We also have two girls back who did not play last year but played in previous years: Gina Ranieri and Emily Menhart. They’re both good softball players, good athletes and they’re both seniors who came back out this year to play. Gina is a forward and Emily is a guard.

“Those six are our top six. Kylie will be in there and Emma Holaren is more than likely the point guard. The other four are competing for the other three spots.”

McCombs see two more girls having an impact who played as freshmen a year ago

“There are two returning sophomore guards, Mia Ranieri, who is Gina’s sister, and Bria Whipkey, who are really going to be expected to step up as well,” McCombs said. “They’re our seventh and eighth players right now but could be moving up with hard work in practice.”

McCombs has a 50-50 mix of experienced players and new players.

“We had 16 girls who came out this year,” he said. “Eight are returning players and then there are eight more sophomores and freshmen who are playing varsity basketball for the first time.

“Traditionally, we play man defense, but because we have a few girls who haven’t played for awhile and some who are younger and not too ingrained to a certain system, we are embracing the flexibility we can have by starting with sort of a blank canvas with this group. We can kind of shape them into a very dynamic offense and defense, and we want to be a little bit unpredictable to our opponents.”

McCombs is assisted by his brother, Sean McCombs. The three have been a coaching team the last two years.

“I think at this point, with the girls who have been here, there’s a certain level of comfort with one another now,” McCombs said. “They know what to expect from me and they know what I expect from them.”

The Lady Mikes will again be in Section 3-AA this season but with a somewhat different set of teams.

“We had a couple teams switch around,” McCombs said. “Last year we had Jeannette, Greensburg Central and Sarra Catholic in our section but they’re no longer there. Bishop Canevin and Chartiers-Houston and Fort Cherry are all in there now.”

Bentworth, Burgettstown and Frazier fill out the section.

The Lady Mikes open section play Dec. 17 at Chartiers-Houston.

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