From Aleah Kranson’s view inside the two, there are many parallels in the significant rise of Wyoming Area girls sports programs in soccer and basketball the past few seasons.
“There’s definitely a lot of similarities,” Kranson said. “Both programs got new coaches in the same year. Both of those coaches have worked hard to improve the program in any way they could.
“They got all the girls on the same page and now it’s finally showing off in both programs. We’re really making great strides and we’re really putting in a lot of hard work. That’s the way to success.”
Kranson transitions from one success story to the pursuit of another as she moves from soccer, which finished at Wyoming Area two weeks ago, to basketball, which begins official practices Friday.
If there is a significant difference between the make-up of the two teams, it could be in Kranson’s responsibilities.
Kranson just completed a soccer season in which she beat out a wealth of talented players around the Wyoming Valley Conference to finish as the league’s scoring leader. She moves into basketball where her job is often to keep the ball moving to get as many different players as possible involved in the scoring.
“I do whatever my team needs me to do,” said Kranson, a junior who plays both off guard and point guard. “If they need me to play defense, I’ll be the first one playing defense.
“If they need me to take over at point, I will do that. I’m going to do whatever is in the best interest of my team.”
Chad Lojewski, who coaches Kranson in basketball season, said she can be counted on consistently at practice and in games to be one of the players giving the most effort.
Those tireless work habits are a big part of the fast pace the Lady Warriors try to push on both ends of the floor, but are just part of what Kranson brings to a team that has its own high scorer in Sarah Holweg and a record-setting rebounder in Addison Orzel.
“Obviously, when you have some talent on the team, you have to be able to distribute the ball; we can’t have it in one girl’s hands all the time,” Lojewski said. “Aleah, and there’s some other girls coming through the ranks as well, that are going to be able to fill that role. Everybody has to believe that they’re involved in touching the ball.
“Aleah kind of leads that because she is incredibly unselfish. When she has the ball in her hands, she’s looking for somebody else first.”
During soccer season, Kranson’s teammates know that getting the ball to her feet is a good approach.
Kranson, who began playing travel soccer with the Wyoming Valley Soccer Club as a second-grader, produced 40 goals and 24 assists in the regular season to lead the WVC. She added six goals and three assists in a 13-0 rout of GAR in the District 2 Class 2A playoffs.
With Kranson leading the way, Wyoming Area went 13-3 to finish tied for second in Division 2.
The Lady Warriors won just three conference games in 2014, Nikki Sitkowski’s first as head coach, but progressed to five and eight in Kranson’s first two seasons as a starter on the team.
Basketball hit a similar stage in the winter of 2015-16 and, after arriving at a bit of a plateau last season, will look to continue the upward climb.
The 2015-16 team doubled its win total in Lojewski’s second season, going 16-10, putting together some postseason heroics and coming within an overtime loss of a spot in the state tournament.
“We’re excited for this basketball season,” Kranson said of a group that will try to improve on a 13-10 mark and first-round playoff exit.
For the next few months, the WVC’s highest-scoring player will put away the soccer balls, but she will be back at it soon.
“Soccer has always been my favorite sport, but I definitely do enjoy playing basketball and enjoy being on the team,” said Kranson, who was second on the basketball team in assists and third in steals last season after seeing significant playing time as a reserve in her freshman year. “In the winter, I’m strictly basketball.
“Then once basketball’s over, I start up again with travel soccer and put in some time in AAU basketball. In the summer, I put a lot of time into both sports.”
Lojewski is thankful for that.
“It’s different, of course, because you’re using your feet instead of using your hands,” Lojewski said. “But, her footwork is incredible because of soccer.
“I’ve always been supportive of our girls playing multiple sports. I think that’s important in high school. I think it makes her a better basketball player.
“She certainly sets a good example for everybody.”