All the pleading in the world wasn’t going to help.
No way that Dunmore’s Kayleigh Semion was going to say a braggadocious word about herself. Even asked point blank, “what was your favorite play in the game tonight?”
“Probably the pass to Mariah (Maciejewski) that gave us the lead,” Semion responded.
Really? Best game of your life, a chance to say anything about yourself, and that’s what you give me?
Maybe the players aren’t the only ones learning something every day.
In her first two years, Semion always had been what I’d consider a nice complementary piece. A smallish guard, quick, and streaky, who someday might have the chance to put it all together.
Well, someday may have arrived.
In Monday night’s win at Old Forge, 43-41, all Semion did was go 8 for 12 from the field, 2 for 4 from 3-point, 3 for 3 at the foul line, grab seven defensive rebounds, make five steals and tip away another ball that eventually went to Dunmore. And she wants to talk about the pass to a teammate.
“You couldn’t ask more from a player or a person when it comes to Kayleigh Semion,” said her coach, Ben O’Brien.
On occasion, I’ve thought that Dunmore kids have taken Derek Jeter’s course in talking to the media without really saying anything. (Call me jaded.) And while I believe Semion took that course her sophomore year, what the junior says now seems sincere.
I’ve been lucky enough to see Semion play 20-plus games in her three years as a starter. Some nights she was good, and some — well, those aren’t going to make the highlight reel. But lack of effort was never a contributor.
She does seem to understand, whether it’s a great game or not, that there are several keys, and probably more, that led to success like she enjoyed in what, without dispute, was the best game of her career.
1) Respect your opponent: “We knew coming out this was going to be a battle. Old Forge is a great team and we had to come out and execute on every single play.”
2) Numbers in the scorebook start far from the basket. “It starts off on the defensive end. That’s where every single possession comes from. You have to play hard on defense and your defense becomes your offense.”
3) Enjoy the moment. “These big games, they are always so fun. That’s what makes high school basketball so great. Coming out in this great environment, you just have to come out and play and play well.”
Monday was like a playoff environment. Likely, so will Thursday’s home game with Holy Cross, the only team to beat Dunmore in league play this season. And while Semion’s growth, and minor setbacks that come with true growth, will continue, she understands what games like Monday’s mean for her team down the road.
“We have a lot of young players, so being in a tight game like this will help us out in the future,” Semion said. “Coming into Old Forge’s gym, it’s always a tough to play. We knew we had to step up and hit a lot of our shots.”
She certainly did that. Carried a Dunmore squad that made only four of its other 20 shots. And did it quietly, by allowing her game do all the talking.