Sunday, February 5, 2023 | 7:37 p.m.
Neshannock senior Mairan Haggerty has become a versatile and valuable player for the Lancers.
At 6-foot-1, she’s the tallest player on the roster, so on many occasions he’ll fight opponents for position on the blocks.
But she can also handle the ball and score from the perimeter with a soft shot.
“This season she has become well balanced, a little more vocal as a leader and has improved on the defensive side of the court and as a rebounder,” Neshannock coach Luann Grybowski said. “She’s had to do a lot more this year, and for sure that’s added pressure. Mairan is also a three-dimensional threat as a goalscorer because she attacks well, shoots the pull-up very well and the 3, the Deep 3. She’s fun to watch when zoned in her element.
Haggerty was at the top of his game last week helping Neshannock tie for the 1-3A Division lead with a pair of wins that took the Lancers to 13-6 overall. The team now has four straight wins and an eight-game winning streak in its last nine games.
“This year we struggled a bit early in the year with defense,” Haggerty said. “Now, going through this season a bit, we felt each other because there are new players on the pitch, we just had to click and play defence.”
On Monday, Neshannock hosted Laurel (17-2) for first place in the section. Haggerty scored 37 points and 14 rebounds as the Lancers used a big third quarter and outscored the Spartans, 23-10 en route to a big win, 72-55.
“Mairan’s leadership and energy stood out on both ends of the court in our win over Laurel,” Grybowski said. “She was by far the best player on the court in all areas. She defended the opponent’s best player, rebounded exceptionally, handled the pressure, found open teammates and scored at will. One of the best individual performances by any of my players in a big game in all my years of coaching, and it’s a huge accomplishment as I’ve coached great players.
Said Haggerty: “We all knew it was going to be tough. We didn’t bounce back well the first time we played because I was at fault, so I knew I was really going to have to go out there and bounce back. I picked up two early fouls in the first quarter. I knew I couldn’t foul anymore, but I had to bounce back and that’s how I scored underneath.
There was no disappointment for the Lancers after Monday’s victory. Neshannock took care of business Thursday against Riverside, 65-32.
“Against Riverside she stayed focused and had another great night on both sides, and that’s hard to do with a big lead,” Grybowski said. “She hit five 3s in that game. She takes what the defense gives her. She also had another double-double.
Haggerty again scored above his average of 22 points per game, leading the Lancers with 23.
With several key players graduating from last year’s WPIAL and PIAA Championship team, Haggerty had no problem fulfilling his team’s leadership role.
“It certainly took time for him to settle into a leadership role,” Grybowski said. “Over the last couple of weeks she’s really evolved into the well-rounded total control type player that I knew she could be. She’s become more vocal and leads by example with a focus on defense and the rebound. I ask a lot of her, and she’s up to it, that’s for sure. She’s playing her best basketball and we’ll go as far as her leadership takes us.
Grybowski is very fond of his team and believes they are peaking at the right time in their effort to reach the District Finals for a third straight year.
“They know what it takes and what to expect in the playoff run. It’s exhausting and demanding for sure, and they are aware that they need to increase the level of energy, intensity and focus to succeed. There are a lot of good teams in 3A, so we’ll have to be at our best defensively to be successful.
2023 Trib HSSN Women’s Basketball Players of the Week
Week 4: Iyanna Wade, Clairton
Week 3: Shaye Bailey, Freedom
Week 2: Rylee Kalocay, Upper St. Clair
Week 1: McKenna DeUnger, Charleroi