PIAA champions

Eleanor Bailey/The Almanac

Isabella Mills, Morgan Marisa and Makenna Marisa hoist the PIAA championship trophy after Peters Township defeated Garnet Valley, 62-49, in the Class 6A girls’ state final last March.

Practice makes perfect. Peters Township lived by that adage as it rolled to an undefeated championship season in girls’ basketball last winter. During the 2020 campaign, the Indians will also adhere to that philosophy.

“We win our games at practice,” said Bert Kendall, who enters his seventh season at the helm. “What happens on game night is a reflection of our execution and drive at practice.”

Under Kendall, the drive has been there for six seasons as the Indians have won 70 percent of their games. They are 103-43 during that time span, including last year’s 30-0 mark.

So the Lady Indians must be at peak perfection when they begin defense of their titles-section, district and state crowns.

“Our goals are always to qualify for the playoffs and compete for a section championship,” Kendall said.

That simplistic objective is never easy particularly in Section 2 in the WPIAL’s highest classification. Bethel Park (22-4) experienced success last winter but all four of their losses were to the Indians. Under Dori Oldaker, who coached three straight state champions from 2010-2012, Mt. Lebanon also is always a formidable foe.

“There are no nights off in 6A, Section 2 play,” Kendall emphasized.

There are, however, many new faces, particularly in the PT line-up as Makenna Marisa is off playing at Penn State and Isabella Mills is competing at Case Western Reserve. In addition, Marisa’s sister, Morgan, also graduated last year.

Everybody’s Player of the Year, Marisa averaged 21 points and 4.3 points per game last season for the Indians while her sister provided three points in a reserve role. Mills maintained a 13.8 average. She led the team with five assists a game.

The Indians are also currently without the services of Mackenzie Lehman. The senior is recovering from knee surgery.

The Liberty University recruit tore her ACL during a summer lacrosse camp. The 5-10 forward averaged nine points last year for the Indians. She scored the game-winning goals in the WPIAL championship contest, an overtime thriller against rival North Allegheny.

That leaves the Indians will two returning starters upon which they will rely. A junior point guard, Jordan Bisignani managed five points per game in 2019. A sophomore center, Journey Thompson provided 13 points and 7.7 rebounds per game last year.

PT also welcomes back Avana Sayels. The sophomore played the critical role of sixth man for the Lady Indians. She pulled down seven rebounds in seven minutes of action during the WPIAL finals.

“She also has an offensive mind,” said Kendall. “That could bring needed scoring lost to graduation.”

The Indians will rely on their team strengths of “athleticism, speed and discipline on defense” while the mesh together to form a winning unit.

“We have several new new faces,” Kendall said. “We will need to get to know each others’ tendencies and become more cohesive as the season progresses.”

Peters Township will tip off the season with tournament action. On Dec. 6, the Indians host Woodland Hills at 6:30 p.m. On Dec. 7, they entertain Thomas Jefferson at 7:30 p.m.

While section action commences at home against Baldwin on Dec. 12 and Upper St. Clair on Dec. 19, Peters Township does not face Bethel Park until the new year. The Jan. 2 contest is also a home match for the Indians.

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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