Bishop Canevin’s Alyssa Pollice goes from role player to reliable scorer

Thursday, January 16, 2020 | 7:27 PM

When Alyssa Pollice transferred from Seton LaSalle to Bishop Canevin last season, she gave the Crusaders girls basketball team something every team needs: that player who does the dirty work. Defense, rebounding and intangibles that don’t show up in the scorebook were her calling card.

She didn’t need to be much of a scorer on a team that had plenty of offensive firepower.

Jim Kaczorowski was a spectator at a few of Bishop Canevin’s games last season, and he saw what Pollice could do. When he took over as coach of the Crusaders this season, he knew he needed her to do more.

Specifically, he needed her to score.

Pollice, a 5-foot-8 senior, has done that, averaging 16.7 points through the first 13 games for the Crusaders (9-4, 6-0 Section 3-2A). Her effort included a personal-best 30 points in a win over Carlynton, one of the top teams in Class 3A.

“It was just a game she couldn’t miss,” Kaczorowski said. “Especially in the first half. We did a lot of running and playing pressure defense, and she got a lot of shots and they were going in.”

Pollice said she never minded playing a complementary role, but she is relishing the chance to be the one scoring points.

“I watched all the other girls score a lot of points last year, and I just wished one time that could be me,” she said. “It was just waiting for (my) time. It’s nice to see all the time in the gym getting up shots and all the hard work are paying off.”

Pollice and fellow senior Diajha Allen — they are the only seniors on the team — give the Crusaders a strong scoring tandem. Because of her increased offensive production, Pollice is entering uncharted territory: being the focal point of opposing teams’ defenses.

All the unwanted attention, she said, is frustrating at times. But as the season has progressed, some of the younger players have started to gain confidence and taken some of the scoring onus off Pollice and Allen.

“Watching the other girls being able to score and really get their confidence level up is something I love,” Pollice said.

As much as she is enjoying being a scorer, Pollice remains a staunch defender and rebounder. She had 12 rebounds in the win over Carlynton and, the night before, 15 rebounds (and 22 points) in a win over Carmichaels.

“Scoring I could really care less about,” said Pollice, who will play at Westminster next season. “I am really worried about getting the rebounds and the assists. And I feel like getting a stop on defense is so much more important than scoring.

“I think I would rather get 20 rebounds than 20 points.”

It should come as no surprise, then, that Pollice said defense and rebounding will be the keys if the Crusaders are to get back to the WPIAL title game. Reaching that level is particularly important to her.

Because of her transfer, she was ineligible for the 2019 postseason, and she had to sit and watch as the Crusaders were eliminated in the Class 2A semifinals. She said it was difficult to see the seniors be denied their fourth consecutive WPIAL title.

This time, Pollice will have a say in the Crusaders’ postseason fortunes. She will continue to take pride in doing the dirty work but is excited to contribute more on offense.

“I worked on all the little things; now I get to do the big things,” she said. “Last year, I shot a lot, but they went in and out. Now they are starting to go down, and it’s nice to have everything start clicking.”

More Basketball

Newly hired boys basketball coach Brandon Sensor sees Shaler as ‘right opportunity’
Shaler poised to hire boys basketball coach Brandon Sensor
Former Norwin star Jenna Lusby hired as Jeannette girls basketball coach
7-time WPIAL champion coach Spencer Stefko steps down at North Allegheny
Mike Iuzzolino takes over Sewickley Academy boys basketball program