Mastbaum Star Credits Father's Role

Posted: February 19, 1993

John Stay would love to take credit for developing Jennifer Ricco.

After all, it would boost anyone's ego to claim responsibility for polishing the skills of a dominant scorer or sharpening the tremendous all- round instincts of a total basketball player.

But the Mastbaum coach conceded that he has had little to do with turning Ricco into the force that has carried the Panthers to the Public League semifinals.

"She was already like this when she got here," Stay said. "The best thing I ever did for her was not try to change her."

That was because there was no need. Ricco, a 5-foot-10 guard/forward, is a commanding presence on the court. Starting for the varsity since her freshman season, she has accumulated 1,577 career points, including 517 this season. Her averages of 30.4 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists are team highs this season.

As a result, Ricco is considering offers from Boston University, Loyola (Md.), Temple, Fairleigh Dickinson and Delaware.

Ricco credits her father, Rick, for providing the most basketball inspiration.

"It would probably have to be my dad," she said, "because he was always pushing me to go harder."

Under her father's guidance - he coached his daughter briefly in a local playground league while she was in grade school - Ricco developed her intensity. Her skills and instincts have been enhanced ever since, thanks to her high school activities and involvement with Amateur Athletic Union basketball since the eighth grade.

"What makes her a great player is that she knows the game so well," Stay said. "She's very unselfish, excellent on defense and a real good shooter."

Ricco is sometimes unselfish to a fault, leading Stay to awkwardly encourage her to shoot more and pass less.

"She has that great team concept, but she has to realize that with us, her 10-footer is sometimes a better shot than a layup by somebody else," Stay said.

"In general, I just like her to play the game. But depending on the situation, I let her know that it's time for her to come forward. And she always seems to do her best in the toughest games."

That could explain the 39 points and 17 rebounds she collected during a 69-54 quarterfinal victory over Frankford on Friday and her 38 points in a 79-39 romp over Germantown in the first round on Feb. 10. Last month, she scored a school-record 44 points to key Mastbaum's 67-62 triumph over Franklin Learning Center.

"I don't set any scoring goals for myself," Ricco said. "I never did."

But there is the matter of the league semifinals on Sunday at the Civic Center, and Ricco has set her sights on the championship. "I think we can go all the way if we all play good," she said.

As far as Stay is concerned, a standout effort by Ricco is nearly a certainty.

"When the pressure is on and we need her," Stay said, "she comes through every time."

ALSO IN THE SPOTLIGHT

BOYS' BASKETBALL. Jason Lawson's 32 points, 19 rebounds and 5 blocked shots helped carry Olney past Southern, 77-67, in a Public League playoff game. . . . Derrick Perry scored 39 points as Norristown coasted past Central Bucks West, 103-75. . . . Bishop Shanahan, behind 40 points by Joe Pesansky, toppled Unionville, 77-70, to clinch the Southern Chester County League championship. . . . Jared Lenko surpassed 1,000 points for his career with 27 in West-Mont Christian's 70-65 victory at Hill Top. . . . Alvin Williams broke Germantown Academy's career scoring record with 24 points in the Patriots' 65-48 loss to Haverford School. Williams brought his career total to 1,647, shattering the previous record of 1,629, set by Paul Hutter in 1970.

GIRLS' BASKETBALL. Heather Weindorfer, Lower Moreland's career scoring leader, scored 23 points in a 55-43 victory over Bristol and 24 in a 74-29 rout of Christopher Dock to boost her career point total to 2,048. . . . Amy Hummel's buzzer-beating basket gave Interboro its first victory over Sun Valley in 15 years, 36-35. . . . Ellana Rodriguez's 34 points carried Kimberton past Perkiomen School, 63-31. . . . Dana Poehner's lone field goal of the game came with three seconds left and lifted Upper Darby to a 42-41 triumph at Ridley.

WRESTLING. Lower Merion's Bill Furber pinned Sun Valley's Jim Natiello at 140 pounds during the Aces' 46-19 victory to earn his 100th career win. . . . Jeff Ricci recorded a 16-14 decision over Tom Jones with a takedown in the last five seconds of their 189-pound bout, avenging a previous loss and sending Northeast past Lincoln, 31-27.

GIRLS' GYMNASTICS. Laurie Scott scored a 30.2 in the all-around to lead Upper Darby to the District 1 intermediate team championship.

ICE HOCKEY. Brian Smith connected for three goals and an assist to key Unionville's 8-4 triumph over Radnor.

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