Having piloted the Lakeland High (Shrub Oak, N.Y.) program through a period of of lady hoops prosperity, Hornets coach Steve Fallo has groomed a torrent of talent.
He references key players from Lakeland's 2007 state championship team, as well as notable guards who altered the perception of the program.
So, when asked if Vanderbilt-bound forward Tori Jarosz is the best
player he's ever coached, Fallo nearly sidesteps the question. He made it sound as if the words "best player" shouldn't be in coach's vocabulary, and rightfully so given the wealth of gamers Lakeland's featured at different positions.
Suddenly, the the truth pops out.
"Pound for pound, inch for inch, she's probably the best all around player--given her size--that we've had," said Fallo.
"She's a terrific role model for the other players. Her work ethic is second to none. She just loves the game of basketball, and she brings that every night to the court. It shows in her style of play and her enthusiasm."
That style of play has allowed Jarosz, who utilizes a thick arsenal of back to the basket and refined post moves, to materialize as perhaps the best female basketball player from Westchester County since Danielle Hood in 2004.
Hood, the professional who starred at the University of Hartford, came out of
Walter Panas in Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.
At 6-foot-4, Jarosz boasts a smooth jumper, one she can extend to around 15-18 feet. This supplements her vaunted interior game.
Stopping Jarosz in the post, where she loves to execute manipulative mano-a-mano moves, seems like a task akin to walking on water.
"They aren't too many people who can play Tori one-on-one throughout
the Section. Obviously the size matters. She can just dominate inside."
It was an interesting summer for Jarosz, who hooped in various
AAU tournaments throughout the northeast landscape.
After helping the Hornets to a berth in the Sectional championship game at the County Center last season (where the Hornets came within a minute of copping the gold ball), Jarosz evolved into a highly sought after prospect.
Now that she's got the process of selecting a college out of the way,
Jarosz know she has a major responsibility cooking on her front burner.
"Last year we had our vocal leadership so I more so led by example on
the floor," said Jarosz, who added that Lakeland lost some of its luster and leadership to 2009 graduation.
"This year, I really have to step it up more in the leadership
She's done a superb job thus far.
Jarosz scorched the nets to the tune of 33 points during a win over
Horace Greeley in the opener of the Lakeland tournament.
She dropped 19 points while patrolling the paint in the finals
against Briarcliff, en route to a tight, 60-55 victory and a Caroline Conroy Memorial Basketball Tournament Championship.
TJ dropped 27 points in a 52-33 pummeling of Our Lady of Lourdes
She's no Maya Moore, but no question, this chick can ball.
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