By Tom Robinson
Leah Hodick and Lindsey Welsh spent the spring and summer of 2019 as teammates on the JB Hoops Bucci national AAU team.
They will be back together again next season at DeSales University after separately deciding to continue their athletic and academic careers at the Lehigh Valley school.
Between their time as teammates, Hodick and Welsh were rivals during the 2019-20 season on two of the top three teams in Division 3 of the Lackawanna League. Hodick played center at second-place Riverside while Welsh played point guard at third-place Old Forge.
Late in the regular season, Hodick learned that Welsh had made the same college choice.
“We didn’t really talk about it until after we had decided,” she said.
They will be joining a program that has made two straight National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III tournament appearances after winning Middle Atlantic Conference Freedom titles. The Bulldogs were 23-5 after exiting in the first round in the 2019-20 season when they entered the national tournament ranked 20th in the country.
“I like the way they play – a lot of transition,” Welsh said. “That’s my game.”
Welsh, who surpassed the 1,000-point mark for her career during her junior season, still is not done with her high school career. The Lady Devils are one of eight quarterfinalists in Class 2A girls in the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association state tournament, which remains in its suspended state while the nation tries to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.
Hodick averaged 8.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists for Riverside, which won 21 games, but came up one win short of the state tournament in Class 3A.
“Each time I went down, the people were really friendly,” said Hodick, a former Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 first-team, all-star at Pittston Area, who sat out her junior season under PIAA transfer rules after switching to Riverside. “They treat you like family right from the start.”
Welsh, who gave strong consideration to the University of Scranton and also made a recruiting visit to the University of Rochester, will major in biology. She plans to continue into the physicians assistant program.
Hodick also made recruiting visits to Division III schools Wilkes University and Lycoming College as well as Division II Millersville University. She intends to major in sports exercise physiology.
They helped JB Hoops Bucci go 27-2 in 2019, finishing first or second in every one of its tournament appearances.