Team Mentality Scores for GLSD Girls Basketball



Lexi Weatheron and Emma Blair build a defense to reckon with.

Cut the nets down! For the first time since 2007, the Greater Latrobe Lady Wildcats Basketball team earned the title of 2021 section champions. This team of girls battled through everything, and stuck together and worked hard as a team on their path to the section championship. 

After basketball tryouts, the team was just starting to practice. Due to an uprising in COVID-19 cases, the entire state went into a shutdown that lasted weeks. On December 10, 2020 Governor Wolf announced a state-wide shutdown that went from December 12 to January 4 that included a suspension of all sports over that time. The players on the team were worried about whether or not they would even get to have a season at all. Senior Lexi McNeil stated, “At that point we didn’t even know if we would have any more games.” 

Luckily the team was able to have a season and it has already had lots of success. Atop of the section championship, and currently in the final 4 for the Section 5A WPIALs, the team had a 10-2 regular season record.

Seniors Rachel Ridilla, Lexi Weatherton, Ava Vitula, and Lexi McNeil have been playing together for most of their basketball careers since the Latrobe Parks and Rec Girls’ Basketball league. 

Team chemistry was certainly a big reason for the team’s success. Lexi McNeil described the team’s motto as, “A family instead of a team. We all trust each other and get along great.” Communication during the game was a strong point for the team and that trust was a big part of it. 

Lexi McNeil said, “Another big part of building up team chemistry is how much we all enjoy being with each other off the court too.” The team bonded from everything they did together whether it was talking to each other, seeing each other at school, through playing together, and with bus rides to and from games. The players also have a great relationship with the coaches. Bailey Watson described the relationship by saying, “ The relationship between players and coaches is exceptional. We have a great coaching staff and all their time and effort is appreciated by everyone.”

The team also embraced the five freshmen, Elle Snyder, Addison Toy, Cara Dupilka, Sami Kronenwetter, and Belle Blossey like “little sisters”, and they all have played a role in the team’s success during the season. Leadership like this brings the team up and gives the younger players more confidence. All of this great team chemistry plus the talent led to an extremely successful season. 

The team has stayed with the same mentality throughout the season of not worrying about who your opponents are. Lexi McNeil stated, “We just treated the game for the sectional championship as any other game.” Staying with this mentality makes the team focus more on working as a team and lead to lots of success as whether it was a normal regular season game, or the section championship, the team played the same every game and put their best effort forward. The team has had two phenomenal come-from-behind wins late in the playoffs so far after a 10-2 record plus great performances from former athlete of the week, Emma Blair.

Bringing the sectional championship back to Latrobe was a great and emotional experience for all the players. 

Some players shared their thoughts and feelings on winning the championship like senior, guard Rachel Ridilla said, “Towards the end of the season, I knew we had a chance at winning the section, but we had to beat the next best team in our section to earn the title.  I was confident in our team that we could win; we have such a special group of girls!  After winning the section championship, I was very emotional, but in a good way.  We have been working towards this goal for the past four years, and to finally accomplish it just meant the world to us!” 

Rachel Ridilla searches for an empty opponent. (Richar)

Lexi Weatherton said, “Coach Fe was on the last team that won this section championship title. It was really good to share the moment as section champs with her, being that she was the last one to win it which made the moment really special for us.”

Bailey Watson, who said, “After winning the sectional championship it felt unbelievable. Every single player on the team knew we were capable of it and we’ve been striving for the section title since the end of last season. We had the goal in mind and we accomplished it, and it is so crazy to think about. I’m so happy to have been apart of it.” 

Now, riding on the success of a sectional championship, the team is taking that momentum to the playoffs and are one of the final 4 teams left for the WPIAL championship. The semi-final game tip-off is tonight, Thursday, March 11, 2021 at Chartiers Valley at 6pm. 

The team is working as hard as they can to take this success all the way and win the WPIAL championship and represent Western Pennsylvania in the state playoffs. For all the seniors, there would be no better way to finish out than as champions, and they are pushing towards that right now.

Ava Vitula focuses on the ball. (ri)