Gamble plays key leadership role for Bishop Canevin girls

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Friday, January 12, 2018 | 11:45 PM


Ask Bishop Canevin senior Lauren Gamble how tall she is, and she pauses for a second. Then comes the answer: 5-foot-5, maybe 5-foot-6.

Look at the Crusaders girls basketball roster, and it lists her as being a couple inches taller.

While her published height might be exaggerated, there's no overstating Gamble's importance to the team. She's one of three captains who is a veteran of two WPIAL championships, and, said coach Scott Dibble, she's willing to do whatever he asks.

That includes using her “height” to guard the opposing team's biggest player. The Crusaders aren't the tallest team in Class 3A, and Gamble — whether you believe she's 5-8 or 5-6 — is one of the taller players, often making her the sensible candidate for the assignment.

But Gamble has played all over the lineup in her three-plus seasons. Her versatility along with her team-first mentality, Dibble said, is what makes her so valuable.

“She's a quiet leader,” said Dibble, in his first year as the Crusaders' coach. “She's not the most flamboyant player. She's not going to ‘wow' you, but when it comes to consistency, she does everything for you.

“She's probably one of the only players on my team who knows every position and every play from that position.”

Gamble's savvy was particularly important to help ease the coaching transition when Dibble stepped in after long-time coach Tim Joyce was let go. Dibble said Gamble usually is one of the first players to help the freshmen.

“They came into a really positive environment,” Gamble said. “I just tried to show them how things go, how we run practice, helped them in drills. All the seniors, we just welcomed them in.”

Having the younger players get up to speed is critical if the Crusaders want to contend for a third consecutive WPIAL title. Two graduated starters needed to be replaced, so the trickle-down effect of two reserves moving up meant the young players would need to provide quality depth.

The transition seems to be going smoothly. After the Crusaders' 75-28 win over Apollo-Ridge on Jan. 11, they were 5-0 in Section 3-3A and 8-3 overall.

Gamble has been contributing 7.9 points per game to the offense as well as providing a post presence on defense. She said she worked on her strength over the summer in preparation for defending down low.

“I wanted to be able to step in and contribute if they needed someone in the post,” she said. “I wanted to be able to step in and have no issues.”

That doesn't mean Gamble is glued to the other teams' center. Dibble called her a “lock-down defender” and doesn't hesitate to use her to pester opposing guards.

“Her off-the-ball defense is tremendous,” he said.

Gamble wants to finish her high school basketball career with a third consecutive WPIAL title and a PIAA crown, something that has eluded her and her fellow seniors.

It's a tall order, but it's one from which Gamble refuses to shrink.

“The big stage … you shouldn't take it as something to be scared of,” she said. “It's a great memory, something you will remember for the rest of your life.

“I've played on big stages before, and my confidence is really high.”

Chuck Curti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at ccurti@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CCurti_Trib.

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