The old saying, "when the going gets tough, the tough get going" is definitely one that describes Marian's senior point guard, Gabby Green.
In last year's District 11 tournament game against Nativity, Green drove the lane and went airborne for a layup. She would have preferred not to come down because when she hit the floor, she felt an immediate and excruciating pain in her left knee.
"I first thought this isn't happening to me," said Green. "Then I realized, this is happening to me."
When the swelling subsided, the MRI results showed that Green, who has started at point guard for Marian since she was a freshman, had torn both her MCL and ACL and was scheduled for corrective surgery one month later.
"Gabby didn't step back onto the basketball court until eight months after her surgery and not until our first day of practice," said her head coach, Paul Brutto.
"It was a difficult rehab," said Green, "but I never felt I would give up. It was really annoying and hard work too, but I would not have been able to do it all if it weren't for the support of my family and my trainer, Steve Strauss."
An incredible fact is that Green is not alone when it comes to torn ACLs on her team. Senior Ericha Holman tore hers in her sophomore year and junior Ashley Fannick had the same calamity as a freshman. Remarkably, considering these setbacks, the Fillies are off to a 6-0 start that includes a tournament championship in this young season.
In that tournament, the Red Raider Tip-Off Classic at Lourdes Regional High School in Shamokin, Green scored 21 points, including five three-pointers, to lead the Fillies to a 55-42 win over Lourdes in the title game.
"In spite of her success, I think that Gabby is three or four weeks away form hitting her competitive peak," said Brutto. "She simply needs more active battle to regain her skills of seeing the floor and getting the ball to open shooters."
"I do feel a little behind," said Green. "I'm not anticipating as well as I could, but I know that is going to come."
Brutto claims that Green, who has already committed to play for Bloomsburg University next year, is as fearless as they come on the court and her composure holds steady even if she makes a bad play. Although Green wears a brace on her knee, she is not afraid to go all out to make plays for her team.
"Put it this way," said Brutto. "Gabby is a key component to how successful we will be this year."
Green offers some interesting advice to any athlete who has to experience what she has gone through since her injury.
"Be thankful," she says. "If you get the support I did from my family and from my trainers, it makes you want to come back stronger than ever."
Adversity may destroy the confidence of some athletes, but for Gabby Green, her resiliency, determination and her rehabilitated knee are helping the Fillies set their sights on what may become a season to remember.
80'S ROCK On opening night, the Tamaqua boys basketball team made an early season statement with an 80-14 victory over Pocono Charter. The 80 points scored is the most by the Blue Raiders since they scored 82 points on December 2, 2003 in an 82-74 victory over Shenandoah Valley. The last time a TIMES NEWS area team scored 80 or more points in a game was just last season when Northern Lehigh defeated Notre Dame of Green Pond by a final score of 88-54 on January 13, 2013. Since 1988, the 14 points allowed tied the least amount of points given up by Tamaqua in a game. Back on December 10, 2010 (which was ironically enough Tamaqua's opening game of that season), the Blue Raiders yielded 14 points to Weatherly in a 58-14 win.
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS ... While several area teams will be playing for Holiday Tournament championships later this week, there was one TIMES NEWS area squad that captured a tip-off tournament championship on the opening weekend of the season. With a 55-42 victory over host Lourdes Regional, the Marian girls basketball team claimed the championship of the Red Raider Tip Off Classic, its first Tournament Title since 2010. In the semifinals of the Tournament, the Fillies handed Shamokin a 50-26 setback.
FAB FIVE ... On Friday night, the Lehighton boys basketball team placed five players in double-figures in a 77-69 Mountain Valley Conference loss to Stroudsburg. With each starter scoring double figures and accounting for all 69 of the team's points, no one else scored a point in the contest (three other players played in the game, scoring zero points for Lehighton). In addition, Anthony Rossino hit double figures without making a field goal in the game. Rossino was 10-for-12 from the free throw line. Dating back to last season, Rossino's 10 points were the most points scored by a TIMES NEWS player without scoring a field goal in a game. The previous high was eight points, accomplished last year by Weatherly's Brett Stallone (who connected on 8-of-10 free throw attempts without converting a field goal).
DOUBLE TROUBLE ... On Dec. 13, Pleasant Valley sophomore Mackenzie Borger notched an unorthodox double-double double figures in two separate games. In a 54-18 Mountain Valley Conference victory over East Stroudsburg North, Borger scored 10 points. In the JV game prior to the varsity contest, Borger led her team with 19 points, en route to a 62-32 win.
FOUL FRENZY ... In the Palmerton girls basketball game against Bangor (a 57-44 Bombers victory) on Dec. 13, the two teams combined for 50 fouls, which sent Palmerton and Bangor to the free throw line an astonishing 70 times. Bangor went 12-for-29 from the charity stripe, while Palmerton converted 24 of its 41 free throw attempts. In comparison, the Palmerton boys basketball team has only attempted 72 free throws (37-for-72) in all six of their games combined this season.
SZCZECINA SHINES ... Panther Valley's Jake Szczecina scored a career-high 33 points in the Panthers 59-53 victory over Jim Thorpe on Dec. 18. Szczecina also scored 32 points in Panther Valley's season-opening victory against Marian, which makes the senior sharpshooter the first Panther to have at least two 30-point games in the same season since Brad Yuricheck accomplished the feat during the 1999-2000 season. Yuricheck did it three times that year, hitting the mark against North Schuylkill, Mahanoy Area and Palmerton. In that same game against Jim Thorpe, Szczecina hit nine three-pointers to tie his own school record for three-pointers in a game. Coincidentally, Szczecina set the record (nine treys) one year earlier in the same Olympian gymnasium.
BOMBS AWAY ... In Weatherly's 73-70 overtime loss to Nativity on Friday night, three Wreckers combined for 14 three-pointers. Luke Reiner drained seven treys, Luke Figas added four long balls and Brett Kelly recorded three triples. According to TIMES NEWS records (dating back to 1988), the 14 three-point field goals tied a single-game record for Weatherly. The Wreckers also had 14 three-pointers on Dec. 7, 2004 in a 77-34 victory over Freeland MMI. In that game, seven different Wreckers tallied a three-pointer, with Donny Hoffman's six triples leading the way.
DIALING LONG DISTANCE ... The Marian girls basketball team remained undefeated (6-0) on Saturday with a 50-31 non-league victory over Berwick. In that game, six Fillies knocked down a three-point field goal. Lindsay Nemeth had two treys, while Gabby Green, Ashley Fannick, Vanessa Whitecavage, Emily Sofranko and Monica Baranko all chipped in one three-pointer apiece. In comparison, the Marian boys only had six players all season (through their first five games) to connect on a three-point field goal.
THREE'S COMPANY ... In the first three weeks of the season, outside shooting has reigned supreme, as eight TIMES NEWS area players have collected five or more three-point field goals in a game. Panther Valley's Jake Szczecina tallied nine treys against Jim Thorpe, Weatherly Luke Reiner notched seven triples against Nativity, Tamaqua's Bo Rottet drained seven three's against Hamburg and Northern Lehigh's Tyler Dibilio tacked on six long balls against Pen Argyl. Lehighton's Jake Knappenberger buried five three-pointers in two of the Indians first six games of the season, while Northern Lehigh's Joe Egan, Marian's Anthony Agosti and Marian's Gabby Green all tallied five treys in a single game.
FASTBREAK WEDNESDAY ... A new weekly high school basketball radio show debuted on Wednesday, Dec. 4 on Magic 105.5 WMGH. "Fastbreak Wednesday," hosted by Charlie Killian and Burt Werdt, will be broadcast every Wednesday night during the high school basketball season from 7:30-8:30 p.m. at the Deer Lake Pub and Restaurant on Route 61 in Deer Lake. Covering both boys and girls basketball, the show will discuss the hottest topics in the area, while also featuring special guests throughout the season. The new radio show is slated to be the most comprehensive high school basketball show in the area.
JASON BORIS also contributed to this column