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Grand Feat

North Catholic's Alayna Rocco (11) drives to the basket against Knoch’s Nina Shaw during a girls basketball game last month. Rocco scored her 1,000th career point in the contest. Jared Todhunter/Special to the Eagle
North’s Rocco reaches 1,000 career points

CRANBERRY TWP — Playing basketball is second nature to Alayna Rocco.

"I played soccer through the eighth grade, but since then, it's been just basketball," said the North Catholic junior guard. "My dad played and is now a coach. My older brother, Zach, played. I've been around it my whole life."

That exposure has given Rocco a wealth of on-court knowledge and she has the talent to go with it.

In a game against Knoch Jan. 16, she scored her 1,000th career point in a key section victory. She enters Thursday's game against Valley averaging 18 per game this season.

"When she came onto the varsity team as a freshman, I could tell she was a highly-skilled kid and she was always working in the gym to improve," said North Catholic coach Molly Rottmann.

That dedication has turned Rocco, who has verbally committed to play at Harvard University, into a well-rounded player on whose shoulders the Trojanettes (14-3) are placing much of their hope for the 2022-23 season.

"She's added so much to her game," added Rottmann, who said Rocco is averaging 5.2 rebounds and two steals per contest. "She now has a really good mid-range jumper, she's crashing the boards and is so unselfish. She's always looking to pass the ball and there are times when we tell her she needs to be more aggressive because she's a scorer and that's what we need her to do."

And there's no letup with Rocco's play at the other end of the floor, a fact that has been magnified since senior guard Dacia Lewandowski left the lineup due to injury in late December.

"We're now putting Alayna on the other team's best player. That responsibility is solely on her shoulders," Rottmann said.

Rocco's shooting from beyond the arc helps to stretch opposing defenses. She'd made 37 treys this season entering this week’s play.

"My outside shooting wasn't as good when I was younger, but I've spent a lot of time working on it," she said. "I've also gotten stronger and am doing a better job of getting to the rim."

North won the WPIAL Class 3A title last season. Rocco and her teammates are eyeing the same hardware now that they've been bumped up to 4A.

"We're all best friends off the court, but hold each other accountable on it," she said. "We need to make sure we're all doing what we need to do to win games."

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