Everyone on her team recognizes that as Lizzie Neville’s calling card.
This season, they’re seeing something more.
“Offensively, she’s stepped up to the next level,” Scranton Prep teammate Rachael Rose said.
Neville’s steady defensive hand and an improved skill set on offense have helped the Classics return to Mohegan Sun Arena for tonight’s District 2 Class 4A championship game, a 5:30 p.m. tip against Berwick as Scranton Prep goes after its fourth straight title.
“Compared to last year, she’s got a completely different game and people really have to respect her shot,” said Rose, who comes into the game with 1,660 career points and a Division I ride to South Carolina Upstate in her pocket. “What Lizzie does for us goes so unnoticed sometimes. Like so many people, she does the little things. She goes out and she works hard. She doesn’t care if she goes out and scores. She goes out and plays as hard as she can.
“She’s a team player and she’ll play for all of us.”
A year ago, Neville scored double figures in just one of Prep’s 27 wins. This season, she’s blossomed into a player who not only can run the point, but whose offensive contributions have nearly doubled.
She scored a career-high 20 against Abington Heights on Jan. 29, and has been in double figures in five of the last eight games.
“It’s amazing the way she’s changed in the eyes of the coaching staff and in the eyes of her teammates,” head coach Bob Beviglia said. “For the last few years it was always Rachael and Cecelia and three other kids playing roles. But Lizzie has stepped up to the point where she is one of them.
“They appreciate that and they know the energy she brings on the defensive end, but she has shown the ability to make plays offensively, and make shots. When she’s able to do that, we’re hard to guard.”
She’s added enough of an outside game — 13 3-pointers — that defenses can’t slide off her, and that allows her to drive to the bucket or dish to a cutting teammate.
“We knew as the summer progressed and as we started moving into this year that Lizzie was going to be a different cat than she was last year, and the rest of the league found that out, too,” Beviglia said.
To some extent, but Neville is still the hard-nosed defender that can make life miserable for an opposing point guard, as 1,100-point scorer and Bucknell University recruit Cecelia Collins can attest.
“I always tell her before the game, it starts with her, her guarding the point guard and being able to cut some balls loose and go out in transition and score,” Collins said. “She always has a positive mindset and it just helps our team a lot.”
This season it’s helped Prep limit opponents to 25.2 points per game, but her offensive production of 9.8 ppg helped the Classics average District 2-best 66.2 points.
“I’ve never seen anything like it, and we’ll ask her to do the same thing Thursday night and as long as we’re playing to try to disrupt and bother people,” Beviglia said of her defensive acumen. “And she relishes that role.
“She knows that’s what it’s all about for her and we talk to her about that every single day in practice. And her teammates kind of get her going with that.
“We’re thrilled she’s made the progress she’s made, and next year I think you’ll see that even more when she has to take on an even bigger role offensively.”
Marty Myers began his career as a sports writer at The Wayne Independent in Honesdale, where he served as sports editor and later managing editor. After 10 years there, he joined The Times-Tribune in 1994 and has spent the ensuing years reporting on high school sports, local and professional golf. An award-winning journalist, he also enjoys his duties as a copy editor for The Times-Tribune, editing stories and designing pages. A native of Williamsport, Marty resides in Clarks Summit. Reach him at email@example.com, 570-348-9100 x5437 or @mmyersTT.