Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rebels on a Roll, 7-2 in Section 3 Point Guard Williams Pacing Seton- Lasalle

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rebels on a Roll, 7-2 in Section 3 Point Guard Williams Pacing Seton- Lasalle

Article excerpt

Seton-LaSalle returned to the girls' basketball playoffs last season after a rare, one-year absence.

However, the Rebels' trip to the WPIAL tournament was short- lived after losing to South Allegheny in the first round.

With virtually every player back from last season, Seton (12-5, 7- 2) figures to be in the playoffs again and second-year coach Luke Ruppel said he believes his team will be better prepared for the postseason the second time around.

"I think some adjustments have been made by the players in their second year with the coaching staff in terms of knowing what our expectations are on a daily basis," Ruppel said.

"There's a high level of expectations in terms of being prepared every day to play at a high level. They've done a good job of understanding that for us to reach our goals, there has to be a sense of that common purpose. We tell all our players that they have to set themselves aside individually and do what's best for our club as a unit."

The Rebels are led by 5-foot-6 senior point guard Niki Williams, a Hofstra recruit, who averages 17.5 points, 6 assists, 5 steals and 4 rebounds per contest.

Two sophomores are also returning starters: 5-9 forward Megan O'Keefe (11.5 ppg and 7 rebounds pg) and 5-6 guard Bridget Buskirk (9 ppg, 4 assists and 3 steals pg). The other returning starter is 5- 11 junior center Emily Pacconi.

The fifth starting spot is shared between 5-8 sophomore guard/ forward Alison Barth and 5-11 sophomore forward Jessica Heintz. Both gained valuable varsity experience as freshmen role players on the team last season.

The bench strength comes from 5-7 senior guard Erica Bilski, 5-6 junior guard Danielle Pais and 5-9 sophomore forward Christina Blasi. Bilski is the only senior on the roster besides Williams, who has more than 1,400 career points.

"Williams' role has been to lead and distribute the ball," Ruppel. "She's a scoring point guard, which is a terrific thing to have. Not only can she create and open up scoring opportunities for others, but she can also score herself, so it's like a double-edged sword when you're trying to guard Niki.

"She knows for us to reach our team goals, she has to share and get everybody involved in the offense and she's done a good job with that. …

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