TribLive HSSN Girls Basketball Player of the Year: Peters Township’s Makenna Marisa

Sunday, April 7, 2019 | 8:27 PM

Makenna Marisa was dominant all season long, but the Peters Township senior seemingly saved her best for under the bright Giant Center lights in Hershey.

With the undefeated Indians one win away from making history, the 5-foot-11 guard scored 29 points in the PIAA finals and her team celebrated its first state title with a 62-49 victory over Garnet Valley in the Class 6A championship.

The victory — No. 30 in a row — made Peters Township (30-0) only the fourth girls basketball team in WPIAL history to win a state title with a perfect record.

Marisa, a Penn State recruit, averaged 20.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists — making her the TribLive HSSN Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

What moment will you always remember from the state finals?

“Maybe at the end when I was shooting my foul shots and everybody else was taken out. I realized these were going to be my last two shots of my high school career.”

Knowing that, was there added pressure to make them?

“Honestly, no. I wasn’t feeling any pressure. I was just kind of sad that those were going to be the last two shots that I was ever going to take.”

When during this season did you start to believe an undefeated record was possible?

“We always took it one game at a time and we never talked a lot about being undefeated or going undefeated. It was always: ‘We have to win the next one.’ We would never be ahead of ourselves. So if we were playing Bethel Park, beat Bethel Park. Don’t think about two games ahead. Think about the game in front of us.”

Chartiers Valley also went undefeated this season and won the Class 5A title. Do you wish the two teams could play head to head, or is it better that both could celebrate undefeated history?

“I’m kind of on board with the game. I want to play. We scrimmaged them (in the fall and again just before the WPIAL playoffs) and it was really competitive both times. I think it is nice that both of us went out undefeated. If we played each other, one of us obviously wouldn’t, so it’s probably better than we didn’t play.”

How have you changed as a player during your high school years?

“My freshman year, I just took layups and 3-pointers. I added a jump shot to my game. Sophomore year I worked out with (Chartiers Valley coach) Tim McConnell, and my grandpap helped me to develop the jump shot. I think I’ve also become a smarter player, just making better decisions. I used to have a lot of turnovers and I’d foul a lot. I think I fouled out five games my freshman year. Now, I’m more consistent, but I try to add something new to my game every year.”

Your grandfather, Rudy, played basketball at Penn State and later coached Waynesburg to 565 wins. How has he influenced your career?

“He’s such an inspiration. He’s a legend at Waynesburg, and all of the lessons and stories that he teaches me. He talks to me after every game about things I could have done better. He loves the jump shot. He talks about it all the time, trying to make it better.”

What’s the key to being a good jump shooter?

“A few things. If a defender comes at you, you’ve got to be able to stop immediately and pull up. Keeping the ball above your head and out a little bit. My grandpap actually made this list for me and he said, these are the steps to being a really good jump shooter, and I have them in my house. He’s given me about five different copies.”

What drew you to Penn State?

“My family background and being close to my family. My grandfather’s background there and my mom’s, it’s just really cool. Plus both of my brothers went there. My uncle. Two of my aunts. And I just love Penn State. I love the atmosphere. It just feels like home away from home. And I love the team. It felt like the right fit. ”

What do you between now and when you report to Penn State?

“Get stronger. That’s my main thing because I’m going to be going up against some really strong girls.”

Is there a professional player that you watch and admire?

“Mostly LeBron, to be honest. And then Kyrie (Irving). On the girls’ side, I love (Notre Dame’s) Arike Ogunbowale and (Oregon’s) Sabrina Ionescu. But I actually don’t watch that much basketball. I’m starting to a little bit more. I don’t watch a lot of games because I don’t have a lot of time to sit down and watch them, but I’ll watch videos on YouTube or highlight videos to learn different moves.”

If your team held a talent show, who wins?

“Morgan Merdian is a really good singer. If we get her going, she’ll start singing around the locker room. Once we all start singing, we’ll say, take it away Merd.”

What would be your talent?

“Some people say I’m a decent singer. I would say otherwise.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at or via Twitter .


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