The Pitt-Johnstown women’s basketball team has just one senior in guard Maria Montini, but the youthful Lady Cats enter the 2012-13 season with a lot more game experience than last year’s team.
Coach Sasha Palmer, who has compiled a 73-68 record in five years at Pitt-Johnstown, has three starters back and four other letterwinners from a team that finished 14-12 overall and 12-10 in the WVIAC a year ago. The Lady Cats finished seventh in the conference.
This year, conference coaches picked Pitt-Johnstown to finish eighth in the WVIAC in a preseason poll.
The Lady Cats will count on sophomore Kaitlynn Fratz to lead the way.
Last year, Fratz led UPJ in scoring with a 17.2 average. She added 89 assists and a 3.4 rebounding average to those totals, which earned the 5-4 guard WVIAC Freshman of the Year honors. Fratz also got to the free-throw line (162 attempts) with frequency.
Pitt-Johnstown, which opens its season Saturday with a conference game at Concord (W.Va.) University, will pair the highly talented Fratz, a first-team all-conference pick who scored 20 or more points 11 times last year, with some experienced players in the backcourt. Fratz could see more time at point guard following the departure of Sara Trimarco.
Kelsey Sleighter averaged 8.4 points last year as a reserve and she connected on 39.4 percent of her three-point field goals. She’s also one of the better rebounding guards on the team. Grace Hyland started eight games a year ago.
Freshman Dominique Smith will figure into the rotation. A two-time All-Lake Erie league selection, Smith averaged 18.1 points and 4.8 steals as a senior at Maple Heights High School outside of Cleveland.
The Lady Cats return their top two rebounders from a year ago in sophomore Nicole Carman and junior Rachel Johnson.
Carman, a 5-foot-10 forward, averaged 10.6 points and 6.0 rebounds as a freshman. Her skills aren’t limited to the interior as Carman made 38 three-point field goals. Johnson, also 5-10, averaged 4.0 points and 5.3 rebounds. She started 14 games a year ago and is expected to see significantly increased minutes.