Derry’s Tiana Moracco attracting attention as she nears school scoring record

Friday, December 31, 2021 | 6:01 AM

Derry knows how to apply and play against box-and-one defenses.

The hybrid scheme comes naturally now because the Trojans girls basketball team is seeing more “junk” defenses as opponents try to slow down guard Tiana Moracco.

That means they practice them routinely, and Moracco finds ways to shake loose from them in games.

A 5-foot-9 senior, Moracco has been one of the top scorers in Westmoreland County for much of her career and continues to be a tough matchup for opponents, even when they try traditional man-to-man or zone defenses against her.

She is scoring nearly 55% of her team’s points with her 23-point average and is moving closer to the career 1,000-point milestone. She has 898 points in three-plus seasons.

“The thing about Tiana is her length and size,” Derry coach Gene Brisbane said. “She is a nice-sized guard. She scores, but she has had some good rebounding games.

“She is facing a lot of double teams. She did when we played Highlands, but she still had 23 points.”

Moracco also is averaging 6.3 rebounds and 4.1 steals.

Derry has just nine girls but is competing and staying in a lot of games at the Class 4A level because of Moracco.

“Our girls are fighting and playing hard,” Brisbane said. “It’s not always easy to practice with nine girls.”

Moracco was born in southeastern Ohio and grew up in Cambridge, about 80 miles east of Columbus. She moved to Pennsylvania as a middle schooler and was a student in the Indiana and Blairsville school districts as the family went where her father’s job took them.

She arrived at Derry when she was a freshman and immediately became a starter on the basketball team.

“I really like it here,” Moracco said of Derry. “Especially the academic part. It’s better here.”

And she has made the basketball team better.

The long-armed backcourt leader is as much of a threat to block a shot or pick off a pass as she is to score off the dribble or knock down a 3-pointer.

“She uses her wingspan very well and deflects a lot of passes,” Brisbane said. “She can cause problems on the defensive end.”

When Derry lost to Apollo-Ridge, 39-36, Moracco sat for almost two quarters with early foul trouble. But she still managed 20 points.

She had a game-high 21 in a 50-41 loss to Monessen.

Moracco takes pride in all aspects of her game — the scoring, the rebounding, the defending — but she knows she might be able to make school history at her current pace.

“I told coach (Brisbane) I had two goals at the start of the season,” Moracco said. “I want to win more games than we did last year (three), and I want to hit 1,000 (points).”

One goal already is accomplished. The team moved to 4-3 with a convincing win over Jeannette to close 2021. The Trojans were 3-11 last season.

The school scoring record also appears to be within reach.

Lindsay Dixon scored 1,047 points from 1999-2002 and holds the top spot.

While Moracco already is known as one of the program’s top talents, finishing her career as the girls’ top scorer would be a nice bonus.

So would a college career. She has Division II and III interest from Seton Hill, Westminster, Geneva and Pitt-Greensburg.

“I love everything about basketball,” Moracco said. “I have been playing since the fifth grade. We have a hoop in our driveway, and when I can’t shoot there, I go to a local community center and we play 3-on-3, 5-on-5, whatever we can get.”

Moracco also played four years of volleyball for the Trojans.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .


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