Last Updated: Thu Sep 08, 2022 - 5:55AM
164 miles separate Southmoreland High School in Alverton and Gannon University in Erie. Despite that distance, Olivia Cernuto feels right at home with the Golden Knights.
The Scotties rising senior point guard recently made her commitment to continue her basketball career at Gannon.
“The coaching staff is amazing. Just getting to know them and seeing them in both a coaching aspect and just getting to know them personally, it really drew me in," Cernuto said of the Division II school which competes in the PSAC. "Once I met the players I felt that I fit in well and felt at home.”
Cernuto doesn't only excel at one sport at Southmoreland, but three. A member of the girls’ soccer team and the track & field team, Cernuto found it hard to make a decision on which sport to pursue at the college level. However, she never gave playing multiple sports in college much thought because she wants to focus on the classroom too.
“I never really considered playing two sports, because ultimately when I go to college I’m worried about my academics and what I’m going to do in the long run,” Cernuto explained. “So I felt that two sports would have been way too much for me to handle.”
She has been a key component in the Scotties recent success on the hardwood. Cernuto has been a leader on the floor while her mother, Amber, is a leader on the bench. She has been the head coach of the Southmoreland girls basketball team since Olivia’s sophomore season. In the two years that Amber has been at the helm, the Scotties have gone 35-10 combined including capturing a section title last season.
Along with the success that the team has had with the Cernuto mother-daughter duo, it's also come with some spirited discussions between the two.
“Sometimes we butt heads, but ultimately she’s my coach and I have to listen to her,” Cernuto mentioned of their relationship. “We are able to pitch ideas back and forth to each other which is helpful.”
“She’s a familiar face, she coached us when we were younger. She’s coached all of the girls in different grades. All of the girls are used to her, and I think that ultimately helps. When you step in to high school you don’t have to worry about what the coach is like, because everyone is accustomed to her coaching style.”
The Cernuto’s are looking to give it one last run at a WPIAL title this year, as Olivia enters her senior year at Southmoreland. But with basketball season still a few months away, she has to stay focused on the current season which is soccer.
The team is off to a strong start with a 3-0 record to begin the season. They defeated Connellsville 7-1 in their season opener in which Cernuto tallied six of the Scotties seven goals.
“I am most excited for being able to play my last year with a great group of girls all around. I’m just really looking forward to keeping more memories with all of them and ultimately doing the best we can and going as far as we can.”
WESTMORELAND RECRUITING NEWS
Norwin's Adam Bilinsky committed to play basketball at Mercyhurst University. Bilinsky, a senior, also had offers from Seton Hill, West Chester and Pitt-Johnstown.
Mount Pleasant senior Krista Brunson will play softball at Pitt-Johnstown. Brunson, along with her older sister Haylie, helped the Vikings capture PIAA and WPIAL titles in 2021.
Norwin baseball player Justin Weaver has committed to Gannon.