Wallenpaupack Area standout celebrates milestone moment

It’s been several years since a member of the Purple & White broke 1,000 career points on the basketball court.

Four years and two days, to be exact, had passed since Bridgette Mann crossed that threshold in an away game at Valley View.

Megan Guerrieri was in eighth grade and in the stands that night. Bridgette, however, was no stranger to the then-middle schooler.

Mann’s legendary skill on the hardwood was rivaled, perhaps even eclipsed by her commitment to give back to the younger players in the program. She easily became an inspiration for Meg.

To thicken the plot, Meg’s godmother is Bridgette’s mom, so let’s just say breaking a grand is something of a family tradition.

Journey Begins

The four-year gap between the two kinsfolk meant they never played on the same squad, but in the wake of Mann’s graduation, Guerrieri picked up where she left off.

Meg, as a freshman, earned a starting spot with Wallenpaupack Area and briskly began to pace the team. She led the Lady Bucks both in overall points with 206, and in 3-point shooting, with 33, that season.

She returned as a sophomore to claim both of those team titles again by knocking down 24 from beyond the arc and tallying 240 points in total.

That year, too, she was thrust into more leadership roles on the floor in the wake of some upperclassmen injuries.

Sitting at 446 entering her junior season, the whispers began. Many then began to wonder if Meg would be Paupack’s next member of the 1,000 Point Club.

Much hinged that season but after it was over, it looked like her making that milestone would be inevitable.

The then-junior tickled the twine 44 times from downtown and closed her season with 319 points, leading the Lady Bucks in both categories for a third straight season.

Other Priorities

Bringing up the fact that she was 236 shy of 1,000 coming into this season made Meg cringe a bit when she spoke to the News Eagle prior to this past summer.

In fact, it wasn’t something she cared to discuss. In the realm of personal accolades, her being named Athlete of the Week by several different media outlets over the years and winning the MVP title at the annual Honesdale Jaycees Holiday Tournament two years in a row were the laurels she seemed most proud of.

In subsequent interviews as the season approached, again, the subject was skirted.

Like her predecessors over the past several years, Guerrieri was more focused on her role as a senior leader and more concerned with doing what it takes for the team to make it to the playoffs and hopefully a district championship.

To propel Paupack high into the standings, Meg knocking down a metric truckload of buckets is a definite part of the equation, whether she wants to admit it or not.

Hitting the 1,000 mark would be a notable achievement but wasn’t something she was going to focus on. Nonetheless, it was going to happen eventually.

Home Stretch

Guerrieri started her senior year off strongly by counting 24 points on opening day against East Stroudsburg North.

20+ nights became common through the Buckhorns’ non-league games early in the season.

She met with some stiff resistance from Western Wayne during the preliminary round of the Honesdale Area Jaycees tournament. The Lady’Cats held her to just eight and in the second night of Lackawanna League action, Abington Heights checked her too, allowing Meg just six.

The magic number, however, was dwindling.

A dozen struck against the Lady’Cats again, 21 more chalked up against Honesdale, and 14 dealt to North Pocono brought her target to 14 heading into last Thursday’s match up against the Lady Knights in Scranton.

She went to work early in the first quarter and abruptly whittled away at the goal. Late in the second period, after draining two shots from the field earlier, Meg landed a trey that put her over the mark.

Following a brief pause to recognize the accomplishment, the Lady Bucks pressed on to take a 30-11 lead at halftime and surged forward, in spite of some solid gains by the Knights in the third, to secure a 55-34 victory.

Over & Out

“It feels amazing,” said Guerrieri post-game. “I was there when Bridgette made her thousandth.

“It’s a goal I wanted to achieve since freshman year and something I’ve worked toward, but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.

“ People asked me all season, ‘When are you going to hit a thousand?’ and while it was a priority, it wasn’t the number one goal of mine for the season.

“Working to win a district championship is our focus and if we win that, that’s something everyone can enjoy.”

Guerrieri closed the night with a total of 24 going 5-for-5 at the line with a trio of 3-pointers in the mix.

Rachael Tirjan claimed one trey and went 3-for-3 at the stripe as a part of her dozen points.

Megan Desmet drained her two free throws and racked up six more points from the field for eight total.

Hannah Smith got one from way-out and two more closer-in for seven on the night and Rietta Steffen picked up two buckets from the paint.

The win pushed Paupack to 5-1 in league play and moved them to 11-3 overall.

While they top the leaderboard among Division II teams, they sit in second behind Abington Heights in the District II 5A power rankings.

“I’m very proud of Meg and her accomplishments,” said head Coach Roy Gibbs.

“She and the girls held off a tough Scranton team and are keeping us where we want to be in the standings, and we won’t have to contend with Abington again until the final round.”