Bella Bomar

Eleanor Bailey/The Almanac

Bethel Park’s Bella Bomar attempts to score a basket while being defended by Ella Sabatos, left, and Becky Gillenberger, right, as Alyjah Carter trails the play.

The Bethel Park girls basketball team returns four starters from last year’s team that finished 15-4 and advanced to the WPIAL Class 6A quarterfinals.

The Black Hawks graduated nearly half of its offensive production when Olivia Westphal, who averaged 24.7 points per game, matriculated to Duquesne University.

Emma Dziezgowski is BP’s top returner. After missing her sophomore season to an ACL injury, Dziezgowski averaged 11.9 points a game. She also pulled down six rebounds each outing.

Riley Miller, Mary Boff and Sophia Nath are the team’s other upperclassmen. Each earned a spot in the starting line-up at various times throughout the 2021 campaign.

“We have really strong, veteran leadership,” said first-year coach Samantha Loadman. “Our ball-handling and guard play will also be an asset but we need to be a team that has balanced scoring and out-rebound our opponents each night.”

The Hawks look to Becky Gillenberger, Olivia Willig and Bella Bomar to fill the vacancy created by Westphal, who will miss the 2021-22 season at Duquesne after sustaining an Achilles tendon injury.

BP will also rely upon Katerina Velisaris, Anna Levis, Alyjah Carter, Sophia Nath, Carley Omara, Logan Burke, Julia Benlock, Ella Harmon, Becky Gillenberger and Ella Sabatos as they prepare for Section 2 action.

The Hawks open the season at home against Gateway Dec. 13, and have three additional exhibition games before starting the new year at home Jan. 3 against Peters Township. A visit to Upper St. Clair follows Jan. 6. BP hosts Mt. Lebanon Jan. 10.

USC and Lebo shared the section title last season. The Panthers advanced to the WPIAL championship game. Both USC and Lebo ended their 2020 campaigns with losses to North Allegheny.

“USC, Lebo and Peters all have strong returners and will be tough,” Loadman said. “This is a difficult section with no nights off.”

The Hawks will endeavor to succeed, though.

“Our expectation is to be a playoff team with a goal of competing for the section title,” said Loadman. “Our focus will be on having balanced scoring, solid team play, and strong defense in order to achieve those objectives.

“The team is excited and looking forward to the season.”

Almanac Sports Editor

An award-winning journalist, Eleanor Bailey has been employed by Observer Publishing Company since 1982. She is the sports editor at The Almanac and a contributor for the Observer-Reporter.

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