Lackawanna Trail High School girls basketball head coach Bob Fitzsimmons had some concerns heading into this
Last year, with just two seniors and no juniors, the young Lady Lions struggled at times. Fitzsimmons worried about the possibility of a year without a senior on the team.
“We would have had no seniors on the team,” Fitzsimmons said. “That would make us that much younger, just like last year. We had a bunch of sophomores last year, so we would have started four juniors and a sophomore.”
But Shannon Jones and Nicole Rosa, who had played basketball in their freshman and sophomore years before deciding not to come out for the team as juniors, were considering coming back to the program.
“I just wanted time off,” Jones said of missing her junior basketball season. “My friends had graduated and I thought that maybe I needed a break from basketball.”
“I was going into my field hockey career, doing winter [indoor] field hockey,” Rosa said.
But as the basketball season went on, Jones discovered she missed the winter sport and was looking forward to getting back to basketball as a senior.
“I had to do something, play a sport, not be bored,” Jones said. “As that season went on, I got a job but found I needed an activity to do.”
The pair decided they needed to ask for more opinions that might have stopped them before they even started their comeback.
“I talked to the other girls, [to see] if they had any problems with us coming back,” Jones said. “I was a little nervous.”
If the other players decided that they did not want the duo to return, Rosa and Jones would not have returned to the team.
“I wanted to get their opinions, to see if they were okay with that,” Jones said. “If they said they weren’t happy with us, I wouldn’t have come back out.”
Last year’s players could have been selfish, seeing that their playing time could be reduced with the addition of Jones and Rosa, but they weren’t, concluding they would help the team by returning.
“It was good knowing they wanted us to play,” Rosa said.
“That’s great. It means we all like each other,” Jones added.
There was one other person they needed to see before they made their return official, but that person was already happy that they sought out their teammates about their potential return.
“Both kids asked to come back,” Fitzsimmons said. “If anybody was upset when they left, well, I guess time heals all wounds. If they thought the team wouldn’t want them back, they wouldn’t have come back.”
Fitzsimmons was glad to have two more reliable players for his team.
“Both are great kids. I’m thrilled to have them back on the team,” Fitzsimmons said. “Shannon helps out on the point and Nicole plays out of position, but has adapted well; she’s so strong. It’s a shame we lost them both for a year.”
Jones has taken over at point guard, providing what the Lady Lions need when she’s in the game.
“Shannon is tough, takes offensive fouls, shoots the three, rebounds and handles the ball well,” Fitzsimmons said. “You have to be talented to take the ball off her. She’s tough. What else would you expect from Mike Munchak’s niece?” (Munchak is a Scranton native who most recently served as head coach of the Tennessee Titans football team.)
Rosa has dealt with a change in position, but the tenacity she showed in field hockey has come with her to the basketball court.
“Nicole gives us a little more toughness. She can play somebody’s big [tall player],” Fitzsimmons said. “She had a nice outside game as a sophomore, but she agreed to go inside and she’s gotten more comfortable doing that. She takes the ball to the hole and she wasn’t doing that before.”
Despite a sluggish start to the season, Fitzsimmons has seen enough to believe the Lady Lions can turn their season around and, in his opinion, Rosa and Jones are sure to be instrumental in any success the team may taste the rest of the season.