Alexa Noone took a step back before stepping into a new role on the Pittston Area girls basketball team.
After three seasons of showing an accurate shooting touch out to the 3-point arc as a complementary scorer, Noone prepared for the switch to primary scorer by spending practice time learning to extend her range.
“We’ve been working on it at practice a lot,” Lady Patriots coach Kathy Healey said. “Sometimes 3-point shooters, step right to the line, don’t step back at all.
“I knew it could be a great year for year, especially if she stepped back a bit. At first, she looked at me like I was crazy, when I said, ‘no, you have to start shooting from here.’ But, it has worked out.”
In shooting drills at practice, Healey worked on Noone becoming more comfortable from just a bit farther away from the basket. Learing to take that extra step back, when needed, to work free from the defense, Noone developed the ability to hit even more long-range shots.
“I feel whenever I create that space or have that opening, I’m going to shoot it,” Noone said. “It just depends on if I can create that space.”
Working to get free as the consistent focal point in the offense for the first time in her career, Noone has thrived.
After going from 16 baskets from 3-point range as a freshman to 21 as a sophomore and 33 as a junior, Noone has surpassed the totals from the three seasons combined.
The senior guard showed just how effective she is from beyond the arc by setting school records for 3-pointers made twice in a four-day stretch.
First, Noone hit four 3-pointers Feb. 6 to help Pittston Area lead late into the game before falling to Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 leader Crestwood, 47-42. She started the game two behind and finished it two ahead of Grace O’Neill’s former record of 54 3-pointers in a season set in 2011-12.
Noone, who averages more than 19 points per game, made five more 3-pointers the next day in a win at Forest City.
Monday, Noone was recognized prior to a home game against Coughlin. She was presented with flowers and balloons and the school record was announced to the crowd prior to the game.
An hour later, she owned another record.
Noone poured in nine 3-pointers, breaking the mark of eight set by Eastin Ashby as a senior during a game at Tunkhannock Feb. 4, 2014. After hitting one more in Friday’s win over Dallas, her season record has stretched all the way to 71 baskets from beyond the arc.
As much as she has worked to add to her shooting range, Noone acknowledges the efforts of her teammates, in an offense designed to get her shots, has also contributed to the record-setting season.
“It’s the whole team,” Noone said. “It’s them getting me the ball. It’s them setting screens for me.
“Without them, I could not have broken those records or done any of the things I’ve done this season.”
Healey said the first thing Noone did upon learning of each record and her selection as the Tom Tigue team Most Valuable Player Award winner in the rivalry game with Wyoming Area was to sincerely thank her teammates in the huddle.
“Alexa is the kind of kid who you want her to score, but she’d actually rather pass to her teammates,” Healey said. “I didn’t think that she would break records because she’s so unselfish that she doesn’t really want attention.
“I didn’t really think about it because of her personality.”
While sophomore center Leah Hodick has averaged nearly 15 points per game as the team’s top inside force, Noone has developed into the team leader, scoring and handling the ball more than ever in her senior season.
Noone plans to move to the Phoenix area after graduation as the rest of her family joins her brother Greg, who lives there. She may find a college in Arizona where she can continue her basketball career.
For now, her concentration is on helping bring out the best in a Pittston Area team that has shown potential, but has struggled at times while bringing an 11-9 record to the final week of the regular season.
“Coach always says the season is like a marathon,” Noone said. “You have ups and downs; you go slow sometimes and you go fast sometimes.
“I think we can finish the season strong. I’m hoping to do that.”
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