Running the point
by Matthew Ondesko: Managing Editor
Mount Mercy Academy junior point guard Bella Scarcello has seen it all during her three years on the varsity basketball team.
Coming in, and making the varsity team as a freshman, Scarcello has been part of the highs of highs, and lows of lows of the basketball season. She has been part of some big wins, and part of a blowout where her team lost by 66 points.
While the losses sting, she knows this team is on the right track. In fact, the team they lost to by 66 last year, this season they were hanging with them the entire time before falling by 11 in the end.
While many will just look at the win and loss record, Scarcello looks at the progress this team has made over the past three years.
“I have a very competitive spirit so I love to win but the past few years have really taught me that sometimes it's not always about winning, it's being able to improve and get better and that was my main focus coming into this year,” stated Scarcello. “I knew we might not win every game, but as long as we were able to improve game by game that's all that mattered to me. Our record doesn't show it but we've had a lot of games this season where the score did not reflect how competitive the game really was. Last year we lost to a school by 66 and earlier this season we lost to them by 11, and we actually had the lead at half so that was huge for us.”
Scarcello has been the general on the ever since she stepped foot on the court at Mt. Mercy. It’s not often freshmen get a chance to play meaningful minutes, let alone be the starting point guard on the varsity team.
She won’t lie, freshman year had it’s ups and downs. That’s a lot of pressure for a 14-year-old to handle. While she made mistakes, Scarcello has also learned from those mistakes. As she has gotten more and more games under her belt, Scarcello has grown in confidence.
Now, as a junior, Scarcello doesn’t even look like the same player that suited up for her first game three years ago.
“Coming to Mercy, and being the starting point guard as a freshman, was very new because it's so different from middle school games,” stated Scarcello. “I'm a junior now, so I've grown a lot as a student-athlete. I'm more comfortable, confident and composed on the court. I have also become a better teammate and leader. I've been fortunate to have had good teammates and leaders around me for the past three years - including my current teammates Meghan and Katie. This has definitely helped in my growth.”
Growth is something that Scarcello has experienced on and of the court. As a point guard you are the leader. You are an extension of the coach. Maybe quiet earlier in her career, Scarcello has become more vocal.
She remembers the upperclassmen taking her under their wing when she was just a freshman and sophomore, and now it’s her turn. When seeing her on the court, you see the poise of a young lady that has been through the grind - and is now ready to flourish.
“Being the point guard is definitely a big responsibility. I am in my third year as the starting point guard. All of that experience has definitely helped me to become a better leader and all around player. I've become accustomed to dealing with the pressure, which has made me more effective in directing my teammates,” stated Scarcello. “This year I understood it was my time to be more of a vocal leader and lead by example. In earlier seasons, I recognized, and appreciated, the leadership of the upperclassmen when I was a sophomore and freshman. So, now, I want to be that example for the underclassman on my team”
She also knows running the offense means finding the hot hand. Whether that means dishing the rock to Alexis Dintino, Katie Reagan, or keeping it herself, it’s playing to the team’s strength. Her basketball IQ is off the charts.
Earlier in her career the game was going at a super fast pace, Now, the game has slowed down due to the experience she has on the court. The game went from overthinking to just going out and playing ball.
“As point guard one of my responsibilities is to recognize who has a hot hand and to get that person the ball. Seeing the court well and recognizing each of my teammates strengths and playing to them is something I think is key to being an effective point guard,” stated Scarcello. “I have been playing basketball my whole life and learned to appreciate the mental side of the game along the way. I think one of my greatest strengths is my basketball IQ. Each year the game has slowed down more and more for me. As a Junior now all of my playing experience has really taught me how to stay composed on the court which helps in slowing down the game.”
There are times, however, a player needs to be selfish. Even with running the point, Scarcello could be the one that has the hot hand. In a recent game against Buffalo Seminary, Scarcello went off.
She poured in a team-high, and season-high, 17 points as the Magic earned the much needed victory. This isn’t the first time Scarcello has gone off in a game. Her freshman year she would have some good games.
Against Buffalo Seminary was just a reminder that she can score, and play consistency, at this level.
“The game against Buff Sem I was able to get into a rhythm offensively early on in the first quarter. My coach and teammates were encouraging me to look for my shots which was helpful,” stated Scarcello. “As a freshman, I had some higher scoring games so it was a good reminder for me of what i’m capable of doing offensively.”
It’s just not all about the scoring for Scarcello. She know’s for any team to be successful, it starts on the defensive end. Playing solid defense could get the Magic where they want to be at the end of the year.
With the regular season hitting the home stretch, and the playoffs just around the corner, Scarcello knows shutting down the other team’s best player could lead the Magic on a run.
“I've always been taught that it starts with defense and defense leads to offense. I take great pride in playing defense,” stated Scarcello. “Understanding that being effective defensively is just as important as being effective offensively. Everyone can have an off night on offense but you can still have a major impact on the game through defense.”