Bill Wagner was hired to take over the Charleroi girls basketball team following last season, a program that graduated six seniors.
Wagner served as an assistant last season, so he knew that he was stepping into a unique situation with such a young team, and he is excited for the challenge.
“I knew how young the team would be and more so how inexperienced we would be heading into the season,” he said. “I am realistic about what to expect from the team, but the girls are going to work hard and the goal is to see improvement as we go through the season.”
There are no seniors on the roster.
Junior Bella Skobel is the only returning player who was in the rotation last year, but Wagner does not want her putting too much pressure on herself.
“Bella will be a solid leader for us, but she has to make sure to realize that she can’t do everything by herself,” Wagner said. “She has confidence in her teammates and it is going to be a learning process for all of us.”
Wagner said that all five starting positions are open, although Skobel will be one of the guards.
Five other players in the mix are juniors, consisting of guards Olexia Johnson and Kaitlin Wagner, as well as forwards Paige Jones, Mariah Mayle and Cierra Gazi.
Guards Lexi Perry and Kylie Quigley and forward Faith Martin make up the sophomore class, while them freshmen trio includes guards Hannah Keranko, Alleah Leska and Kellie Reed.
With 12 players, Wagner is hoping to fill out a JV team, but he is realistic.
“We have some girls who haven’t played much basketball,” said Wagner. “Whichever seven do not start varsity, I want to have them get plenty of JV experience. But, with limited numbers, one or two injuries would unfortunately end that hope.”
The Cougars will compete in Section 2-AAA along with Beth-Center, Brownsville, McGuffey, Seton-La Salle, South Park, Washington and Waynesburg Central.
Charleroi opens the season on Dec. 7 in its own tip-off tournament against rival Monessen.