Archbishop Hoban senior Emma Tecca is sidelined for the second consecutive girls basketball season because of a knee injury.
But even though Tecca is naturally frustrated, she also has several reasons to smile.
This past Wednesday, Tecca flashed a smile in her No. 3 Hoban uniform as the host Knights prepared for a rivalry game against Walsh Jesuit in Barry Gymnasium.
Tecca suited up for the first time this season to take part in the pregame layup line, dribble and pass the ball, and make a few jumpers.
Hoban celebrated senior night with a 58-29 win over Walsh to finish the regular season with a 22-0 record.
The Knights head into the postseason on Thursday with a Division I sectional final game against visiting Barberton. And, as usual, Tecca will be there.
“Being a competitor, you want to be out there no matter what, but I am trying to put this season into perspective,” said Tecca, a 5-foot-9 University of Akron recruit who started as a freshman and sophomore at Hoban. “I am cheering on my teammates and watching how successful they have been. They are working hard, and I am really happy for them.”
Hoban’s starting lineup this season features seniors Lonasia Brewer, Megan Hutson and Taylor Flannery and juniors Jackie Roberts and TaNayja Gooden-Wesley.
“We have learned the past two years to have Emma’s heart because she really wants to play, and she can’t unfortunately,” said Brewer, a 5-foot-11 University of Akron recruit who averages 14.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 2.7 steals and 1.7 blocks per game.
Tecca suffered a torn ACL in her right knee in 2017 and a torn ACL in her left knee in 2018. Hoban coach Scott Callaghan said Tecca’s “rehab is going great.”
“Our goal all along has been for her to continue to progress so she can compete as a freshman at the University of Akron,” Callaghan said. “If she is not doing rehabilitation, she is at our practices and she is at every one of our games. She is still fulfilling an incredibly meaningful role as one of our captains and she is as caring a teammate as you can be.”
In addition to being 22-0, Hoban also went 12-0 in the North Coast League.
“Last year we struggled with finishing games, and this year we have learned how to stay together and finish every game,” Brewer said.
The Knights' top reserves are seniors Abby Griffith, CaraMia Bentley and Alana Christian and junior Hannah Schill.
“I have seen a lot of unity in this team,” Roberts said. “It is tough to not have Emma on the court with us during games. We all know how good Emma is and how much work she has put into basketball and how dedicated she is to the sport.”
Rivals become friends
Tecca and Hutson both attended Holy Family in Stow for elementary and middle school. They played on opposing teams growing up, and teamed up in seventh and eighth grade and on AAU teams. Griffith and Flannery also played AAU ball with Tecca and Hutson.
“Emma’s leadership is definitely crucial to the team,” Hutson said. “There have been many games where one minute before we run out we circle up and say a few words. Lots of times we say that we are playing this game for Tecca. We are playing for Emma.
“She gives us pep talks during some of the important, nail-biting games at halftime. Her voice is always there and her presence is always there.”
Hutson is averaging 6.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game this season.
“We stay together, we dig deep and we find ways to win,” Hutson said. “We talk a lot about staying together and staying united.”
Griffith, who attended St. Francis de Sales in Akron for elementary and middle school, describes the Knights as a “blue-collar undefeated team.”
“When we go out there every game, even if it is close like the St. Vincent-St. Mary one [a 41-40 win on Feb. 6 at the University of Akron’s Rhodes Arena], we just find a way to win,” Griffith said. “Where we are at is due to our players and our coaches.”
No. 1 fan Emma
Flannery describes Tecca as “our No. 1 fan,” and praises her friend for “helping coach the team.”
“It is both heartbreaking, but also encouraging that she is still with us,” Griffith said. “She was always the first one to the gym and the last one to leave.”
Brewer and Bentley both attended Arlington Christian Academy in Akron for elementary and middle school. Brewer, Christian and Gooden-Wesley played AAU ball together.
“One of the major keys that has made our team 22-0 is we stay together as one,” said Gooden-Wesley, who averages 8.3 points, 3.4 assists and 2.5 steals per game.
Canton McKinley is the No. 1 seed in the Medina district with Hoban seeded second, Wadsworth third and Wooster fourth.
“We have worked really hard to get to 22-0,” said Flannery, who attended St. Hilary in Fairlawn during elementary and middle school. “I am excited to face tough teams in the playoffs.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com.