The junior guard was a key cog in the Lions’ first District 1 title since 2009 (and their first-ever District 1 2A crown), averaging 13.2 ppg, 4.3 apg and 3.5 spg and knocking down 30 treys. During the post-season playoffs, she has averaged 17 ppg (as of March 13) and tallied 26 points in the district championship final. She was also selected Main Line Student of the Week in January.
Q: What is your most vivid memory of the District One 2A championship final?
A: My most vivid memory was coming out of the game with a few minutes left, and my coaches and teammates getting up to give me high-fives and hugs. It was then that it all really set in; I realized how far we had come and how much we had accomplished in one season.
Q: What was your first reaction when you heard the final buzzer at the district championship game?
A: When the final buzzer went off I was excited, of course, but I also felt very proud of all the hard work that my team has put in all season and I immediately started thinking about what we can really accomplish in the future.
Q: Was there one play from the game that stands out in your memory – if so, can you tell us how the play developed and your role in it?
A: The one play that stands out to me the most occurred pretty early in the game. I got the ball in the corner and drove the baseline, then snuck a pass through the middle to Sami (Smith) who had cut up to elbow. She immediately looked opposite to Kayleigh (Doyle) who had filled the corner spot and Kayleigh hit a three to put us up 6-0. It seemed like we were finding our rhythm with that play, and I realized that we could win this one if we played hard and played together like that.
Q: You’re averaging 3.5 steals per game this season. What has been the key(s) to your success in steals?
A: Our coaches always tell us that sometimes your shooting may be off, or that things won’t go as smoothly as you plan offensively, but that defense is always within your control and it is all about hustle. Not only do I work hard every game to put in that hustle, but I also know that always have four girls on the court with me putting in everything they have as well. Whether the steal goes down as mine or one of my teammates doesn’t matter, because we work as a team to force turnovers and put in the defensive effort that any team can rally behind.
Q: What aspect of your game are you working on most currently?
A: I am always trying to improve on every aspect of my game. There is so much that goes into basketball, and this game gives me the opportunity to constantly improve not only my basketball skills, such as driving to the basket, defense, shooting, passing and overall athleticism, but also life skills such as leadership and teamwork.
Q: You wear No. 14 for Sacred Heart. Is there a reason you chose that number – does it carry any special significance to you?
A: During my grade school years, I always wore No. 1, but that number never really had much significance. When I reached high school, I had the opportunity to start fresh and wanted to pick a new number. “14” is the day of my birthday as well as the year I graduated from grade school. It has always been my favorite number, so it just felt right.
Q: Who is your favorite basketball player and why? Are there any players that you try to pattern your game after?
A: The two players that have been my favorites, and that I have always tried to model myself after as a player, are Allen Iverson and Scottie Reynolds. I always looked up to these players as a kid. Allen Iverson’s hard work, innate ability to score, and confidence has always inspired me, especially because he, like myself, was smaller than many other players. Scottie Reynolds was a consistent and skilled leader for the Villanova Wildcats. Both Iverson and Reynolds have always inspired me to work hard, be confident, and be a leader on the court.
Q: Where did you get your start playing basketball? Who have been your most important basketball mentors, and what was the most important thing you learned from each of them?
A: I started loving basketball when I was only 3 years old. At the time, my two older brothers played and I looked up to them. As time went on, I continued playing with and against my brothers and my younger brother, Jack, was soon old enough to join us. These early experiences shaped my love for the game and competition. Since then, all of my brothers have been so supportive of me as a player and person. When I got a little older, my Dad was my coach. He has spent a lot of time around the game and has always been a big sports fanatic. As a coach, he taught me so much about the game and what I should be doing to constantly better myself. As my father, he always supported me. He has always been the one to tell me if I’m doing something wrong but also tell me that I can accomplish anything on the court if I work hard enough. When I got into high school, I gained new mentors in my coaches, Zach Shuler and John Cunningham, as well as Sarah O’Doherty, who have believed in me as a player, leader, and prospective college athlete. I have also had a number of AAU coaches along the way who have helped me grow and learn, especially my current coaches Pat Lyons and Dave Hinkley.
Q: What colleges are among your current favorites? What do you think you might like to major in at college? Is there a career path that particularly interests you at the present time?
A: I plan to major in materials engineering in college. I am very interested in this field and the many different career paths that it can lead to. Because of this, I am looking at colleges that I can receive a top-quality education as well as hopefully pursue basketball at the collegiate level.
Fun facts – Eileen Piombino
Favorite book: A tie between In Cold Blood by Truman Capote and The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
Favorite TV show: The Blacklist.
Favorite movie: Hoosiers.
Favorite athlete: Allen Iverson.
Favorite pre-game pump-up song: Sail by AWOLnation.
Favorite teams: Villanova, Philadelphia 76ers.
Favorite place to visit: Sea Isle City, N.J.
Favorite pre-game meal: Spaghetti and steak with mushrooms.
Favorite color: Blue.
Family members: parents Mike and Eileen; brothers Mike (24), Jamey (19) and Jackson (12); pets Rocky, DeeDee and Willie.
(To be selected as Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her coach.)