Tori Nigro was willing to work her way into the lineup.
It just happened a lot quicker than most expected.
Nigro is heading into her sophomore year at Archbishop Ryan High School, and last year as a freshman, she hoped to see some time on the varsity basketball team. She didn’t end up coming off the bench, she ended up in the starting lineup.
“We had a point guard, but she transferred before the year, so coach (Mike McCusker) told me the position was open, but I had to work for it,” said Nigro, who went to St. Matt’s but now lives in St. Jerome’s parish. “I worked really hard, and was really happy when I became a starter. We didn’t have a lot of seniors, but we had three who were really good and really good leaders and they helped me a lot.”
Their confidence in her gave her all the confidence she needed.
Monee Moore, now at Holy Family, was one of the best players in program history. During the season last year, Nigro, who is a pass-first point guard, decided to get her teammate involved instead of popping a jumper. Her teammate told her exactly what she needed to hear.
“Mo told me that I have to take that shot,” said Nigro, who averaged 10 points per game and ended up being Second-Team All-Catholic in her first year. “It really helped me. It let me know that if they have confidence in me, I’ll have confidence. That really let me know I was ready.”
Now, she’s even more ready.
This summer, Nigro played for the Rebels AAU team, and they played a lot of basketball together, including prestigious tournaments in Hershey and Washington. And while her game is being a point guard who gets everyone involved, she did her best to work on other aspects of her game.
“I really wanted to work on my shooting because I think I needed to,” Nigro said. “I am pretty good driving and I’m pretty good and getting my teammates involved. I really wanted to work on my shot, and I got better.
“AAU, we played a lot of games. We were always out there, we played a lot. I played in a summer league, too, and that was tough. We lost good seniors, so we have so much work to do.
“We have good seniors, we have really good players and good seniors, but they play other sports. One plays soccer and another plays volleyball, so they’ll be busy. We had to work in the summer because we won’t have a lot of time to play together as a team.”
Nigro will be waiting.
Last year, she was a three-sport star, competing on the soccer and lacrosse teams. But next year, she’s focusing on her main sport.
“It was my decision, I love those sports, but I wanted to focus on basketball, it’s my main sport and it’s the one I am playing in college, I hope,” Nigro said. “I’ll definitely miss those sports, but I want to focus on it and get better.”
She’s also ready to take a bigger role with the Ragdolls.
Because last year there were unquestioned leaders, she took the time to learn how to be a leader. This year, she enters the season with experience and knows there will be void when it comes to experienced players. She’s ready to fill that void.
“I want that, I’m ready,” said Nigro, who ranks in the top 15 of her class at Ryan. “I want to be a leader. As a point guard, that’s part of the job. You have to be a leader. I won’t have to do it alone, we have others who can do it, but I want to be a leader. I think that’s expected.”
Nigro just wants to keep getting better and keep having fun, which is nothing new when it comes to sports.
In fact, she’s always been that way.
Growing up, her father was a football coach. Instead of taking part in dance class, she chose to go to watch the football players do their thing.
“I never really liked dance, I tried it, but I love sports,” Nigro said. “I couldn’t play football, but I just loved being around sports.”
Before she gets back in the swing of things, she’ll take a few weeks off before school starts. Then it’s right back in the gym to get ready for high school, which is much different than the way she played in AAU.
“In AAU, we do a lot of run and gun,” Nigro said. “In high school, you play differently. And there’s a lot more games in AAU, you play all the time. I think it helps you get ready for high school, but it’s a lot different.
“I’m not too tall, so I got better by playing this summer. I worked on my shot, I’m pretty good at ball handling, but I got better there. And I played a lot. We had a good team, we had players from St. Basil’s, Nazareth, Archbishop Wood and Council Rock. We had a really good team and we got better. It was a good summer. Now we’ll get ready for high school.”