Passionate! Aggressive! Scranton Prep's Olivia Burke and Holy Cross's Gabby Giordano captured their approach to the game in one word as they excitedly looked towards the upcoming state basketball playoffs this weekend.
Burke, a senior posting 9.1 ppg, has been key starter on a team that posted a 25-2 record en route to a Saturday afternoon 4 p.m. battle against Southern Lehigh at Marywood in Class 3A Final 32 action.
Her passionate play in every game has been a key reason Scranton Prep posted one of the best records in the state heading into state action.
"We've worked hard all season and are very excited about the state playoffs," stated Burke. "We'll be prepared and believe our best basketball is yet to come."
The Classic claimed a Lacka. League D-I title this season and were edged by Honesdale in the district final but that loss hasn't dampened the spirits of the team according to Burke.
"We wanted to win the Lynett Tournament at the beginning of the year and the divisional title," offered Burke. "We reached those goals. We may have fallen just short of a district title but we've had a special season and want it to continue."
Heading into the season, Burke was considered a perimeter player but she worked on other aspects of her game and became a more complete player.
"I was mostly a shooting guard but improved taking the ball to the basket and shooting in the lane," stated Burke. It is much different in the lane than outside but I wanted to improve my game to help the team."
Burke shot an efficient 7 for 10 against Pittston Area en route to a 16 point effort in a 58-40 win in the district semi-finals and added a double figure effort in the district final.
Many games, Burke posted double figures in seemingly quiet fashion but that is how she approaches the game.
"My main goal is to be a leader on the floor, be competitive and be a role model for our younger players," stated Burke.
While Burke and her senior teammates would like to add one final state tourney charge to their career memories, they've had their share of memorable moments.
"There has been many good memories but maybe the one that stands out is when we defeated Abington Heights on Pink Night (Coaches vs. Cancer Game). We never won up there and last year they beat us four times."
On Saturday afternoon, Burke will try to lead her team to a Sweet 16 berth.
Just a sophomore and averaging 11.5 ppg, Giordano attacks each game with an aggressive mindset.
Sometimes that style may get her in foul trouble but it also has pushed her into being recognized as one of the top younger players in the region.
Page 2 of 2 - Despite being just a sophomore, Giordano has drawn the attention of opposing teams when those teams put together their game plan against Holy Cross.
"My top goal is to make out team better," stated Giordano. "We trust each other on the floor. I like to get everyone involved."
She's succeeded in doing that as she spreads the ball to teammates. In some games, her coaches have to remind her that she is talented enough to take over games, so she has to be a little more selfish with the ball.
Just a sophomore, she is still getting comfortable with that part of the game.
This season, Holy Cross posted a 19-7 mark including defeating cross-town rival, Dunmore.
"At the beginning of the season, we wanted to play better as the season went on and beat Dunmore," offered Giordano. "We reached those goals."
In the win over Dunmore at Holy Cross, Giordano struggled missing her first 14 shots but kept her composure and still came away with a 21 point effort.
The Lady Crusaders, who dropped the district title game to the Lady Bucks, face District 3 No. 2 seed Delone Catholic (19-6) on Friday night at Dallastown High School at 6 p.m.
A win would put the Lady Crusaders in a Sweet 16 match-up with either District 12 champion St. Basil Academy (17-7) or District 12-3 High School of the Future (7-1).
Giordano and her teammates excitedly look towards the state tournament. For many of the younger players it will be a learning experience.
They'd like to turn the learning experience into a few more weeks of play.
Burke, Giordano and their teammates are now in the Survive-and-Advance stages of the season.
Burke and Giordano will take their passionate and aggressive approaches into this weekend's battles.