If there was one thing that drove Morgan Arden after her sophomore basketball season at Spring Grove it was this -- a desire for consistency.
While Arden scored 10 or more points nine times a year ago, she also failed to score more than five points on nine occasions, too.
Sure there were some other factors that played into those numbers. There were 10 other players, including nine seniors, in the Rocket rotation last season. That cut into Arden's playing time.
Arden, however, wasn't looking for excuses after a sophomore campaign in which she averaged 7.5 points a contest. She knew that those seniors would be gone this year and someone needed to fill that void.
And fill it she did.
Through 17 games so far during her junior season, Arden is averaging an astounding 22.5 points a game -- tripling her average from a season ago. She's scored at least 20 points in 13 of those contests, with her lowest output a 12-point performance against Kennard-Dale.
Her scoring surge aligned with a new coaching staff at Spring Grove. Gerry Rohrbaugh, who also coached Arden in AAU ball over the summer, took the reins this year from Vance Myers and has the Rockets on the cusp of earning a District 3-AAAA playoff berth with an 8-9 record and five contests remaining.
We caught up with Arden recently for this week's edition of Sports Q&A.
When and how did you get into the sport of basketball?
"I guess it started toward the end of elementary school. I tried out for Boys Club in fifth grade and I was put in intramurals. So then in sixth grade I tried out again and was put on the B team. After sixth grade is when I started playing AAU."
What team did you play for in AAU?
"Well I switched over from York Unity to York Thunder last year. With York Unity I played with Zaenna Echevarria and Amelia York from York Catholic. Most of them were from York Catholic. With York Thunder I played with Maddie Comly and Paige Becker of Delone Catholic, MacKenzie Fancher from Susquehannock, Maddie Weikert of Gettysburg and Amari Johnson and Rachel Anstine from Dallastown."
When does AAU start?
"From March to July. Basically when the (high school) season ends."
Who do you look up to basketball-wise? Is it a family member or professional?
"My parents didn't play basketball. No one in my family plays. Professionally, I don't watch too much basketball. I look up to my teammates as far as from learning from them. This past AAU team I played for, I looked up to all of them. I've learned a lot from them."
When I walked into the school I saw that you were named the girls' athlete of the month. When did that start?
"It's a new thing this year. Our athletic director added it as something new he wanted to try out this year. I'm not sure what his requirements are."
What has it been like to transition over from Coach Myers to Coach Rohrbaugh this year?
"I think it's been a good change as far as the atmosphere. I mean we all got along with Vance, but it was time for a change."
Last year you aver aged just 7.5 points a game. This year it's up to 22.5 a game. That's triple the average. What's led to this scor ing surge? Is it the system?
"The fact that nine seniors graduated had something to do with it, but I did a lot of work this past offseason. I was told I needed to improve on my consistency. Last year I could score double figures, but then the next night I would score like seven points. So it was really back-and-forth. So I was told that was something I needed to improve on. I did a lot of work in the offseason as far as my shot and improving just my game in general."
So how is your shot now?
"It's totally improved. I'm really happy with my shot. Especially my 3-point shot. I was 3-for-20 last year, so I'm totally happy with that now."
What's the strongest part of your game right now?
"I would say my ability to drive to the basket. I know in the past I've definitely been more comfortable driving to the basket than shooting. Even though my shot has improved this year, I still think that I look to drive to the basket before I take a shot."
Does your improved shot help you get that extra step when you drive to the basket now?
"Yeah, because they're not sure how to guard me."
So what areas of your game do you feel that you have to im prove upon to get to where you want to be in the future?
"I would like to improve on getting my teammates the ball. I know that when I go to college to play, there's a big possibility that I'll have to be the point guard."
How difficult is it to keep scoring 20 points a night when teams now focus all of their attention defensively on stopping you?
"I don't think it's difficult. I mean I don't think about my scoring at all. I don't find out about it until after the game or the next morning. But it is difficult, depending upon what the defense is playing me. Like (Wednesday night against Susquehannock, when she scored 20 points), MacKenzie was face-guarding me in the second half. She was playing me tough in the first half too, but definitely in the second half she was just face-guarding me. She's a good defensive player."
What would have to happen for you to con sider this season a suc cess? Or do you consider it a success already?
"I think it's already a success. We've done really well considering everything that's changed. I'm real happy with how we've done."
Is making districts a goal?
"Yeah. These next couple of games (Dover, York Suburban and Gettysburg this week) are important if we want to make it."
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.