Krystin Porcella, point guard for John Carroll's girls basketball team, has saved her best season for last. And it has come when the Patriots needed it most.
John Carroll lost four starters from a year ago, with Porcella the only holdover starter on a team with little experience and size.
Porcella has had to work harder and do a lot more things, but she isn't backing down from the challenge.
Porcella's 18.1 scoring average is her career high and ranks her among the area's leaders. Her averages for assists (5.1) and steals (4.1) also are career highs.
By season's end Porcella could be within reach of the 1,000-point milestone.
"Before I was only asked to dribble the ball, set the plays and makethe passes," said Porcella, who scored 31 of John Carroll's 39 points in an 84-39 loss to St. Frances nearly three weeks ago. "Now I'm asked to do that plus average quite a few more points a game."
What has impressed coach Joe Rehrmann most about Porcella is how much she has improved from a year ago.
"Her assists are up, she is hitting the open player very well and she actually has 12 or 13 blocked shots and she is only 5-4," said Rehrmann. "The majority of the team came up from JV, so with the inexperience we knew the leadership, talent and skill would depend upon her."
Porcella admits she has experienced more pressure assuming the leadership role, particularly when it comes to scoring, where she has had to bear most of the burden.
"I'm still the point guard and do most of the dribbling, but with shooting I've had to pick up the points because there is no one hitting consistently right now," said Porcella.
Despite the Patriots' 4-7 record, Porcella said the team is starting to play more up-tempo now that "we are all together and can read each other."
Porcella's quickness and ball-handling gets the Patriots out of a lot of pressure situations and she creates scoring opportunities for her teammates by keeping everyone involved on offense.
Porcella's awareness on the court also makes her especially good at finding the open player.
And she takes the time to help her younger teammates along by helping them to make better decisions in game situations.
Said Porcella, "One of the things I tell them is that whenever they get the ball to put their head up first and look for someone open under the basket before they put the ball right down."
Porcella, who also plays soccer and lacrosse, has been playing basketball since early grade school. During the spring and summer she plays in the Amateur Athletic Union and plays soccer in club leagues year-round.
Perhaps the biggest thing Porcella brings to the Patriots, said Rehrmann, is her dedication.
"She has the drive that all good athletes have, and across the board there are so many things she does that are a benefit to the team," said Rehrmann.