By Tom Robinson
Lisa Tallo’s scoring has gone down in her senior year, but her value to the unbeaten Lady Bucks is on the rise.
For the second straight season, Tallo has adjusted her role in the Dunmore offense to fit the make-up of a championship team in evolution.
Last season, Tallo became a point guard with Division I recruit Maddie Martin’s graduation.
Now, Tallo is sharing that role with freshman Moriah Murray, who has made a big splash as the top scorer on the Lady Bucks. They easily flow between “1” and “2” guards in the Dunmore offense, putting both the veteran playmaker and the young scorer in different positions to attack opposing defenses.
“She’s had to sacrifice some of her scoring for the better of the team,” said John Bucci, owner of JB Hoops, who has coached Tallo at times in the spring and summer throughout her high school career while she played for teams in his program. “Moriah Murray comes in as their leading scorer, so her shots have to come from somebody.”
Tallo has been the one giving up the most shots, dipping from close to 10 points per game to a little under 7. At the same time, she has produced as many as 10 assists in a game, played her usual hard-nosed defense and made the transition smoothly, preserving the chemistry on a team that is winning by 34.6 points per game in a 12-0 start.
“Lisa has done a great job leading our team,” Dunmore coach Ben O’Brien said. “Her floor game and decision-making have been outstanding.
“She does whatever the team needs and takes what the defense gives. She’s capable of scoring 20 one night and having 10 assists the next. She has been terrific.”
Dunmore has often overwhelmed quality competition, but in another sign of her senior leadership, Tallo points out the need to not being satisfied with early results.
“There’s many little things; we need to improve on everything,” said Tallo, who is being recruited by local NCAA Division III women’s programs. “We always have to work on our defense and on our offense, getting it inside; work on our shooting.”
With a lineup filled by players who can score, the Lady Bucks remain a team that keeps looking for a better shot rather than simply taking the first decent one that develops.
“We know everyone can shoot and everyone can handle the ball,” said Tallo, who averages a team-high five assists per game. “Say, I’m open. I know somebody else might be wide open, so we look to make the extra pass.”
Every now and then, they make one pass too many, but it’s not much of an issue on a team that is scoring 62 points per game while allowing 27.4.
“We can, at times, be too unselfish, but we’ll take that,” Dunmore coach Ben O’Brien said.
There are worse problems to have on a team loaded with talented players capable of scoring more on their own if needed. Unselfishness and commitment to defense and rebounding have allowed Tallo and the state-ranked Lady Bucks to get the most out of their capabilities through the first half of the season.
“Leelee’s a good defender and she gets the ball to the right people,” said Bucci, who also hosts a radio show and writes a weekly NEPABasketball.com column covering District 2 basketball. “I’d like to see her cut down on turnovers every now and then, but for the most part, she’s done everything that was needed for this team to be the best team in the area and they are.”