SuburbanOneSports.com recognizes a male and female featured athlete each week. The awards, sponsored by Univest, are given to seniors of good character who are students in good standing that have made significant contributions to their teams. Selections are based on nominations received from coaches, athletic directors and administrators.
Univest’s SuburbanOneSports.com Featured Female Athlete for week of March 12, 2020
Val McGriff was that kid that wanted to try everything. Gymnastics? Sure, why not. Track and field? Definitely. Volleyball? Sounds like fun. Basketball? A definite yes. Basketball felt like a natural fit for the North Penn senior. After all, McGriff was tall and athletic. “Basketball was always there, but I never did it seriously until middle school,” she said. “I would do basketball classes at the Y, and I tried out in seventh grade for the school team. I’d always been a tall kid, so I found it easy to do certain things. Basketball was always something that was fun for me, and it was basically my fun sport.”
When McGriff reached high school, that fun sport became a whole lot more serious, and following her was the burdensome label of potential, unrealized potential to that point. “Val came in as a ninth grader very, very raw, and her freshman year did not get any varsity time,” Knights’ coach Jen Carangi said. “She was strictly a jayvee player. There were times we wondered – would she live up to what we thought her potential was. Would she be able to come into that?”
McGriff knew she was behind her peers who’d been playing competitively most of their lives, and the idea of playing collegiate basketball was the furthest thing from her mind. “My dad had always told me that if I did choose that path it would almost be a catch-up game because I started serious basketball so late,” McGriff said. “He said – you either need to catch up or surpass the players on your team or you’re not going to find yourself in a comfortable situation where you’re getting college looks. I kept that in consideration.” McGriff did more than keep it in consideration. She worked hard at a sport that was her passion, and last fall, the Knights’ senior forward – who recently earned first team All-SOL Continental Conference honors - inked her name on a letter of intent to continue her basketball career at Bloomsburg University.
McGriff led her Knights’ squad in both scoring and rebounding, emphatically answering any questions about potential that may have arisen when she entered the program. “Val has come so far,” Carangi said. “If you would have told me as a freshman she’d be the player she is now – obviously, going into our games, teams are keying on her all game long. Val, as a freshman, would never have been able to handle that. It’s really a credit to her and the way she was able to control herself and focus her energy on the appropriate thing. If someone is going to take away one thing, she’s going to find another thing to do. She’s a pleasure to coach.”
Despite her commitment to basketball, McGriff – a rare three-sport athlete - found time to compete in a fall and spring sport at North Penn and contribute immensely to both. In just her second year playing volleyball, McGriff was a starter at middle blocker and earned defensive player of the year. “She is just full of life,” Coles said. “She was definitely the energy of our team, the girl who yells in the huddles, cheers for her team on the sidelines,” coach Scott Coles said. “When I look back at 2019, she’s one of the players that I will absolutely say – she helped change the culture of North Penn volleyball and our program.” A winner in track and field as well, coach Brandon Turner also had high praise for McGriff. “She’s a great athlete, but better than that, she’s just a great person. She helps the other kids,” the Knights’ track and field coach said. “She’s a leader even though everybody knows basketball is her main sport, but she comes in and she does everything we ask. I’ve been just happy to work with her even a little bit because she is one of those personalities as a kid – you can see they’re going to be successful. She does a lot of things the right way.”
McGriff has signed a letter of intent to continue her basketball career at Bloomsburg University where she will major in psychology with the goal of becoming a child therapist. The Homecoming runner-up, McGriff is a member of the African-American Advocacy Club (AAAC) and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
To read McGriff’s complete profile, please click on the following link: https://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/female/val-mcgriff-0090120
Univest’s SuburbanOneSports.com Featured Male Athlete for week of March 12, 2020
If you’ve come looking for shock and disbelief over where the Cheltenham boys’ basketball team found itself, still playing in the second week of March, then Brandon Scott has some bad news for you. Yes, it is indeed true that the Panthers lost arguably their most talented player, Zahree Harrison, to a torn ACL in the season’s very first game. Naturally, many outside the Cheltenham walls doubted the team could embark on a deep run in both the district and state playoffs without him, but to hear Scott tell it, the team, while heartbroken for Harrison to witness his senior season wiped out, never stopped believing in each other.
The results have been truly remarkable: a 25-4 overall record, an unblemished 14-0 SOL American Conference mark and a runner-up finish in the Class 6A District One playoffs. The Panthers may have fallen to Methacton in that final, but they aren’t finished yet. Following a 57-56 win over Easton in the first round of the PIAA playoffs on Saturday, Cheltenham was scheduled to play a second round contest against Mount Lebanon, four victories away from a state title. That game and the entire state tournament were put on hold for at least two weeks due to the coronavirus threat, but whatever the final outcome, it’s been a remarkable season for the Panthers. They made it happen without Harrison, thanks in large part due to outstanding leadership, both from head coach Patrick Fleury and his staff, as well as rock solid guidance from the senior class, spearheaded by Scott, one of the most experienced and respected seniors in the program.
Watching Harrison go down was gutting for Scott, as the two have been best friends since sixth grade. But the show must go on, and the last thing Harrison would have wanted was for his team to wither without him; if anything, he’d want them to rally around the obstacle, which is exactly what the Panthers have done. “It hasn’t surprised any of us,” Scott said of the team’s improbable season. “Once we knew Zahree was done for good, his dad came and talked to us. The most important thing he told us was, ‘You’re a great team with Zahree, and without him you’re still a great team.’ That impacted us a lot. One of the biggest things that has kept us together is that these seniors have been playing with each other since we were little kids. Because we’re so tightly-knit, we never got into it with each other. We stuck together, through the good and bad.”
Scott has not risen to be Cheltenham’s leading scorer, or even its second or third. Scott can score the ball, averaging around seven points per game, but he is more known as the team’s do-it-all Swiss Army Knife. The 6-foot-1 guard/forward, who also averages 5.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, is the Panthers’ defensive specialist, often guarding the opposition’s best player, regardless of position. Fleury compared his role to Andre Iguodala’s on those championship-winning Golden State teams; he may not be the most talented player on the roster, but he is the adhesive that binds things together.
“He has always been the most consummate, consistent player for us,” Fleury said. “Brandon is a very important player for us because he always draws the toughest defensive assignment. He plays inside out, can switch one through five and oftentimes is a secondary point guard. He scores in double digits sometimes, but if not, he’ll get you games where he has nine rebounds and five assists, or gets steals and takes charges. He’s also our go-to guy in transition. Brandon is a selfless leader who does whatever he has to in order to win. He always has been focused on team success over the individual, and that is a huge reason why we have been so successful. He does a lot of the things right that make people successful. Whether he’s giving up his body or his time to help his teammates, Brandon is just one of those kids that any program would be lucky to have.”
As far as his future plans, Scott, who plans to pursue a degree in accounting, knows he has some decisions to make, but he’s holding off until after the season ends.
To read Scott’s complete profile, please click on the following link: https://www.suburbanonesports.com/featured-athletes/male/brandon-scott-0090116