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Sports Highlights and Updates
Lady Dukes girls basketball lays a foundation in their 1st season backPosted by Jeremy Tepper on 3/7/2023
On the surface, it might seem that it hasn’t been an ideal season for the Lady Dukes basketball team.
On Monday, the team lost to Baldwin 35-12, dropping to 1-10 on the season. But look a little closer, and the Lady Dukes exhibit a lot of heart and effort. That effort, along with fundamentals, is what Duquesne City coach Latoya Singleton has most tried to ingrain in her team in their first season back since 2007.
“The main thing is just learning this sport. A lot of these girls hadn’t played before this season, and they’re getting a lot better,” Singleton said. “The girls are giving their all. They play to the whistle. They play from the time the game starts until the time the game ends. They don’t give up, no matter the score.”
For some of the players, this season represented the first time they played organized basketball. It’s been a process getting everybody up to speed, but in that process, Singleton has seen a love for basketball spark within the team.
Earlier in the season, Singleton took the Lady Dukes to watch the Woodland Hills high school girls basketball team. Her team was in awe, she said, seeing the players’ skill as something they’ll strive for.
“Some of them really want to play. Some of them talk about wanting to go to the WNBA,” Singleton said. “That’s a big difference, because when we first started a lot of them were just playing just to play. Now, they really like playing.”
Duquesne City honored its 8th grade players before the game, giving them baskets of appreciation. The team has five 8th graders this season — A’ryah Scott, Armani Campbell, Maleah Powell, Kimari Middlebrook and Journey Tyler-Jones — and Singleton said they’ve all played a big part in providing leadership and laying the foundation for Duke teams to come.
“I’m gonna miss them,” Singleton said. “I hope the 7th grade girls can step up and fill their shoes, because those 8th grade girls work a lot. They work hard.”
In the coming months, Singleton is focused on continuing to build that foundation. She’d like to introduce girls in the area to basketball sooner, in hopes of building a feeder program for the middle school. In a way, that process has already started, as Singleton said she’s had a number of girls tell her that they want to join the team next season.
“It will be a big change soon,” Singleton said.
Duquesne Girls Basketball Beats West Mifflin 25-22Posted by Jeremy Tepper on 1/26/2023
The clock hit zero and the Duquesne students rushed onto the court. Tears of joy wept down A’ryah Scott’s face as she and her teammates went to the locker room.
The Lady Dukes basketball team prevailed, beating West Mifflin 25-22 and improving to 1-1 in their first season back since the return of athletics to the Duquesne City school district. Scott was the star, leading her team with 20 points and sparking a feverish 4th quarter comeback that saw the Dukes outscore West Mifflin 12-2.
“I’m just happy that the 7th and 8th graders came back. I’m happy that the school came back and athletics came back. I’m proud of these girls,” said Duquesne coach Latoya Singleton. “These girls never played with each other before this season. It’s gonna be a great season, and they’re only gonna get better.”
Between the raucous crowd, her performance and the ultimate win, it was hard for Scott to imagine such a picturesque game. In fact, there was a time when it was hard for Scott to imagine playing basketball at all. Scott admits that at one point she considered quitting basketball. But when athletics returned to Duquesne, her family urged her to give it a try. It didn’t take long for her to find her love for the sport again.
"A’ryah’s a hard worker. She’s the voice of the team. She works hard and she pushes these girls harder,” Singleton said. “She makes these girls want to play because she works so hard. She’s a lovable person and she’s a great student, also.”
Duquesne took the early 2-0 lead but found itself battling back for almost the entirety of the game. After the first quarter, they trailed 8-5, and at halftime they trailed 18-9. Slowly but surely, though, they battled back. Their defense tightened, cutting the lead to 20-13 after the third quarter. Between Scott’s inside presence and the Dukes’ intense guards hounding ball-handlers, the Titans’ offense sputtered.
“We go over defense a lot in practice — more than offense. Defense is key. We cannot win without defense,” Singleton said. “I push them hard at practice. I make them run so much for this, because there’s only seven of us. They’ve got to run with teams that have 15 to 18 girls.”
The fourth quarter started and the Dukes started to race back. The offense ran through Scott, who attacked the rim and grabbed rebounds with ferocity. She knew she had to take over the game.
“I knew we were close and I just had to push through, even though I was really tired. I knew I had to push through, push through,” Scott said. “That’s what my dad always tells me, ‘push through it and you’re gonna be okay.’”
With a little under three minutes left in the game, Scott hit a layup to give the Dukes a 22-20 lead. The Titans tied it back up shortly after, but Scott answered with a deep jumper. The Dukes stayed strong on defense and Scott hit a free throw to give the Dukes a little cushion. Seconds later, her fellow students rushed the court.
Scott admits that playing in front of a home crowd had her nervous at first. But in that euphoric moment, there was nothing better than having her peers surround her.
“It felt good having everybody huddling around me,” Scott said.
Duquesne Girls Basketball Gears Up to Start Its SeasonPosted by Jeremy Tepper on 1/10/2023
When Latoya Singleton heard that sports were coming back to Duquesne, her ears perked up.
Singleton, a 2002 Duquesne graduate and former basketball player at the school, is a passionate leader, having coached football, basketball and baseball. Now, she’ll be coaching at her alma mater, too. Singleton will handle coaching the 8th grade girls basketball team, while Shawnese Brown, a 6th grade math and 6th and 7th grade Project STEM teacher at Duquesne, will coach the 7th grade girls. Both are elated to be a part of rebooting athletics in the district.
“Sports and Duquesne are synonymous. They love it,” Brown said. “The city just kind of thrives off of the sports teams. Whenever they brought sports back, the turnout from the community was amazing and very welcoming.”
Singleton and Brown both noted the substantial crowd turnout for the Duquesne boys basketball games, and are hoping for the same at the girls’ games. At the moment, Singleton and Brown are hoping that they can gather more participants for the teams. For those that have regularly practiced, though, the focus is on building from the ground up.
“We’re just trying to lay some groundwork and get them to understand basketball and what it’s all about and what it takes. Just getting down the basics, and hopefully we can build from there,” Brown said.
“Our goal is that by the time they leave 8th grade, they’ll be ready to go to high school and step onto a JV team.”
Singleton echoed those thoughts, and added that she’s trying to get the community more invested in basketball, with hopes of building up some feeder programs of sorts for the teams.
“I’m just trying to bring basketball to these girls,” Singleton said. “If we start getting them interested in 4th and 5th grade, they’ll want to come out and play.”
At any given practice, it’s easy to see the team’s passion and energy. As such, improvement is being made.
“The girls that have been showing up, they’ve been making great strides and great improvement,” Brown said. “The will to do well is there.”
Brown said that the team understands Duquesne’s rich sports history, having heard tales of it from their family members. Even more, practicing in a gym lined with championship banners is a great relic of what they’re trying to build back up to.
“Just walking into the gym, you see all the different trophies and posters and awards,” Brown said, “I think it’s a great reminder that this was here, that this happened before and now you’re a part of it.”
In practice on Monday, Brown and Singleton participated actively in live five-on-five play, along with the rest of the coaching staff. So too did some of the school's boys basketball players. There is an obvious buy-in in trying to get Duquesne sports back to their old standards, and the community and the school are coming together in the process.
“We’re becoming like a little mini family,” Brown said.