Speller returns to All-State team
BY JASON FULGINITI, Sports Writer
If she wasn't slashing to the basket for an easy bucket, she was hauling down a defensive rebound -- as unlikely as it was, considering her 5-foot-7 frame.
If she wasn't forcing a steal on defense, you could find her knocking down a deep 3-pointer -- often to push her team one step farther in the playoffs.
In short, Porscha Speller spent the last four months giving opposing teams headaches.
Tuesday, she was recognized for it.
For the second straight year, Speller, Lancaster Catholic's senior point guard, was a Class AAA First-Team selection to the Pennsylvania Sports Writers All-State Girls' Basketball team.
The All-State teams in all four classes were released Tuesday, following a poll of sports writers across the state.
Speller also finished third in voting for Player of the Year in Class AAA, behind Hopewell's Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Bethlehem Catholic's Kalista Walters, respectively.
"She has a complete, rounded-out game," Lancaster Catholic coach Lamar Kauffman said of Speller. "She can handle the basketball, she can shoot the basketball, she has an ability to rebound, which is unbelievable for her size, and she's a total team player."
An even bigger compliment?
"She definitely goes down as one of the best players I've had in the last 31 years," said Kauffman, who has coached an astounding 918 games (and 739 wins) at Catholic. "And in the last couple of years, of all the players I've lost, it's going to be hardest to replace Porscha."
All Speller did this winter was average 18.6 points and five rebounds per game, leading the Crusaders to a 30-2 record, their second straight Lancaster-Lebanon League title -- and a record 11th overall -- and a spot in the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals.
Speller also knocked down 32 3-pointers this season, which finally ended for Catholic with a 78-52 PIAA quarterfinal loss to Blackhawk on March 16.
Then again, there's little chance the Crusaders would have even gotten that far without Speller, who -- after transferring from McCaskey to Catholic prior to her junior year -- soon became a critically-effective part of Kauffman's assortment of trapping, full-court presses.
"As strong as she was as an offensive threat she was just as much of a defensive threat," Kauffman said. "With her quick hands she would often come up with a steal when we needed one."
With Speller in the fold, Catholic went an astounding 60-6 over the last two seasons, including a run to last year's PIAA Class AAA final, where it lost a 52-33 decision to Archbishop Wood.
Unfortunately for Speller, she spent most of that game on the bench nursing a leg injury. On the floor, the effects were obvious.
"When Porscha isn't on the floor, we don't produce (to the level the Crusaders have the last two seasons)," Kauffman said. "And in that last game last year, we didn't produce."
Speller finished her career with 1,646 points (including her stats at McCaskey), leaving her second on Catholic's all-time list and just six off the record of 1,652 set by Gina Testa in 2001.
Editor's Note: The complete Pennsylvania All-State girls' basketball team appears on the Scoreboard, Page C5.