The maturation of Delphynia Sparks’ game has been a key reason for Monsignor Scanlan’s newfound success.
The Crusaders sophomore came to the school a year ago filled with talent and eager to prove herself as player. The 5-foot-9 Sparks sees the game differently after an up and down season. Sparks, a shooting guard, is now not only the team’s top scorer, but leader in assists as well.
“When she started last year with us there was more, let me show you what I can do. I can take anybody,” Scanlan coach Tom Catalanotto said. “Now she realizes the bottom line is we want to win the game.”
Scanlan is off to a soaring start as Sparks’ play has made her teammates around her better, raised their confidence and helped boost the team chemistry. The Crusaders are 10-6 and the favorites to win with CHSAA Bronx/Westchester ‘A’ division after starting 5-0.
“My passing will get them better, teach them how to cut and get an easy basket,” Sparks said. “It’s creating a chemistry because it’s getting everyone involved.”
Sparks is averaging 17 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per contest. She has taken her game to the next level recently. Sparks had 16 points and six assists in a win over Archbishop Ryan (Phi.), dropped in 28 to help beat league rival Maria Regina and tallied 24 points and six assists in defeat against national power Regis Jesuit (Co.).
“She’s matured,” junior forward Nukiya Mayo said. “She grew.”
Her play has garnered her a scholarship offer from Iona and interest from VCU, Fordham, James Madison, Villanova, St. Peter’s, Hofstra and Stony Brook.
Sparks leads not just with her skill, but vocally aldo. She immediately puts teammates in the right place at practice and asked them to step up after a preseason scrimmage with defending state Federation Class AA champions Long Island Lutheran.
“I sent then a text telling them we have to work harder in practice because we can get the chip this year,” she said.
Sparks isn’t doing this alone. Mayo continues to build off a strong summer that earned her a scholarship offer from Towson and interest from more than 25 schools. The 6-foot-2 forward is averaging 15 points and 12 rebounds per contest and is a consistent shot blocker.
Janier Cooper is a superb shooter. Mia Crooms provides help for Mayo inside. Junior Jaylene Ortiz and Jaylene Brown have also contributed. All it took were scrimmages against Class AA teams like Christ the King, LuHi and Mary Louis to prove to Scanlan this can be a special year for a program that was struggling three years ago. It hasn’t let the opportunity pass it by.
“If we can compete against the best team in the city,” Mayo said. “We came compete with anybody.”