By Joseph Staszewski
Troi Melton carried the Cardinal Spellman girls basketball team after injuries ravaged the Pilots at the point guard spot. The junior had to step away from the basket and was a revelation, using her athleticism to burn defenses from the perimeter and in the paint. Melton will be back on the outside this season and has plenty of help around her.
“Her confidence playing the three spot a little more [is high] and she has more confidence in her guard skills,” Spellman coach Jane Morris said. “Her ball handling skills have improved tremendously.”
Melton, who scored 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a season-opening loss to Mary Louis, has the ability to step out and hit the mid-range jumper consistently and is taking the ball to the basket more. She is joined by fellow New Heights AAU teammates point guard Tia Scott and forward Amber Griffin, both juniors.
Scott missed nearly all of last season with Achilles tendonitis. The savvy guard appears to be fully healed and her quickness has not suffered. She gives Spellman a true floor general who can break down defenses, hit the jumper and run the fast break.
“Her outside game is getting better,” Morris said. “She is always good going to the hoop.”
Griffin and Melton split time at the three and four. She is a superb rebounder and talented inside scorer and shot blocker. Griffin can step out and play shooting guard because of a solid jumper, but is much more important in the paint on both ends.
“She is just too much of a presence on defense,” the coach said.
One of Spellman’s major losses from a team that finished 16-12, is center Pearl Mensah, who provided plenty of rebounding and inside scoring. Cari English, who plays volleyball like Mensah, will be asked to pick up the slack. The 5-foot-11 junior is extremely athletic, but is still adjusting to the varsity level. Junior Jo-Marie Aquino will add depth at the forward position and senior Julia Balasl and junior Laura McCaffrey will contribute at the guard spots for an overall versatile and athletic squad.
“It should be a nice two years,” Morris said, “if we can stay healthy.”