JACKSON TWP — Seneca Valley's girls basketball team was looking for someone to pick up the brunt of the scoring after the graduation of star point guard McKenna Gross.
Instead, the Raiders got two.
Senior forward Maddie Karchut and junior guard Jaden Davinsizer have answered the call by averaging 13 and 13.3 points, respectively, for a playoff-bound Raiders' team.
The duo's combined effort has infused scoring punch for a program that featured just Gross averaging in double figures a season ago at 15 per game.
Karchut has emerged as a formidable inside presence for the Raiders. As a junior last year, she averaged nine points and six rebounds per game. Her current average on the glass this season stands at 6.5.
“I've been able to work more in the post this year, 1-on-1 with (Olivia West, sophomore forward),” said Karchut. “I've done a lot with contact drills inside and that experience has helped me.”
Karchut is 6-foot-1 and Raiders' coach Dorothea Epps believes she is taking better advantage of her size this season.
“She's more aggressive,” she said. “She better understands how teams are trying to defend her. Defensively, with her size, she's obviously matched up with the other team's big, but her quickness allows us to switch things up.”
Davinsizer's vault to prominence comes a year after she came off the bench as a 3-point shooter.
“I was the seventh or eighth player on last year's team,” she said. “I wanted more playing time and over the summer, I got a lot of time in the gym, not just games for my AAU team, Drill 4 Skill.
“My coach there, John Miller, worked with me a lot and I worked on my driving. Things progressed from there.”
Davinsizer has maintained her outside shooting ability. She knocked down six combined treys in recent section wins over Fox Chapel and Butler, but Epps knows her expanded role is a big reason why the Raiders currently sport a 15-6 record as the WPIAL's Class 6A tournament looms.
“We talked to Jaden about being more versatile and she has bought into that,” said Epps. “She has confidence in that part of her game.”
Davinsizer's play at the other end of the court is not lagging behind.
“Her defense has improved a lot,” Epps said. “She can defend both guard positions, even a (power forward) if we need her to.”
Both Karchut and Davinsizer's offensive production have been aided by strong play from point guard Jess Bickart. The sophomore was a shooting guard last year and could easily be averaging double digits in points herself. However, her ball-handling skills were too good to keep her from replacing Gross.
“Jess makes us go,” said Epps. “She is the glue that keeps everything together, has taken on the role of point guard and is making everybody around her better.”
Bickart's play is key to the confidence the Raiders currently have, especially on offense. Seneca enters Monday's regular-season finale riding a five-game winning streak.
West and senior guard Haley Cramer round out the team's starting five. Guards Morgan Sinan and Kaitlyn Wolfe are the top two players off the bench.
“We know we can get the ball into Maddie, but if she doesn't have anything, she can kick it back out,” said Davinsizer. “We're working well as a group.”
This marks the seventh consecutive year that Seneca has qualified for the district playoffs. The program's last postseason win, however, came in 2006.
“We have better chemistry this year,” said Karchut. “We're all close and I think that can push us far in the playoffs.”