Tamaqua’s Kuczynski has been impact player
Tamaqua’s Emma Kuczynski, second from left, netted her 1,000th career point in a recent game against Nativity. She was joined for the celebration by her father, Zig (left); her brother, Ethan; and her mother, Paula (right). RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Immediate impact. That’s the best way to describe the impressive basketball career of Tamaqua junior Emma Kuczynski.
As a freshman, Kuczynski scored 29 points in her very first varsity game. It was evident from the start of her career that she was going to be a special player, so it’s a surprise to no one that 53 games later during a 59-33 win over Nativity on Dec. 29 Kuczynski topped the 1,000-point mark with a 24-point performance.
Her impact has not only been felt in the statistics department, but in the win and loss column as well. After a few down seasons for the Tamaqua girls program, there were rumblings about the Raiders 2016-17 freshman class. A young group that had dominated in the junior high ranks was expected to come in as ninth graders and make an immediate impact.
That group, led by Kuczynski, has played together a long time, and to say they’ve made an immediate impact would be an understatement as they’ve helped lead Tamaqua to back-to-back postseason berths and a District 11 4A semifinal appearance last season.
Playing with her friends — most of whom are in the group that has helped put the Raiders back on the map — is how Kuczynski got interested in the game of basketball.
“Around third or fourth grade is when most of us started playing and I remember a lot of my friends were playing, so I figured I would try it out, and I’ve been playing ever since,” said Kuczynski. “Then once I started to get older and the competition aspect of the game started to come into play, that’s when I developed a real passion for the game.
“That’s when I started to really enjoy the practice part of it, working to get better, and then of course I love the games, I love to compete.”
Kuczynski also loves to score, because ever since she’s stepped on the hardwood for the Raiders she’s been able to put the ball in the basket more than most.
As a freshman, she averaged 18.17 points per game. She didn’t disappoint as a sophomore, averaging 18.38 points per game. This season, she’s been even better, averaging 22.7 points per game with a 50 percent field goal percentage.
Kuczynski has not only been one of the bests scorers in the Times News area over the last three seasons, she’s also been one of the most consistent, rarely letting her team down on a nightly basis. In fact, the junior has scored in double figures in 58 of her 60 career varsity games — a truly staggering statistic.
“Her motor, her hustle, plus her skill set makes her such a tough player to defend,” said Tamaqua head coach Erika Davis. “She plays so hard and she never gives up on a play. She’s coachable, she does the little things the right way, she really is everything you look for in a basketball player and a person.”
Scoring is the most noticeable part of Kuczynski’s game because that’s what is highlighted in the box score every night, but the junior has made herself into a complete player. Kuczynski leads the Raiders in rebounding (10.6 per game), assists (3.5), steals (3.9) and blocks (1.1).
The junior is also a two time-captain.
“More than anything, getting to 1,000 points has really been a humbling experience,” said Kuczynski. “To see all the support from everyone, my teammates, my coaches my family, I’m just really appreciative and humbled. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without my teammates and my coaches, and I’m just excited to keep playing and competing.
“We want to get to districts again and try and go even farther this year, so we’re all going to push each other to do that. We have a lot to play for and look forward to.”