Lackawanna Trail junior guard Daria Lewandowski has a passion for the game of basketball.
According to head coach Bob Fitzsimmons, her love of the sport shows through her dedication to improve as a player.
“Being a shooter, she will stay extra after practice and shoot some more,” he said. “She’s pretty much a perfectionist at it.”
The Factoryville resident began playing basketball in a elementary school recreation league and was hooked from the start.
“I really loved it and every year I get so excited to play,” Lewandowski said.
Fitzsimmons has noticed an improvement in Lewandowski skills under his guidance the past three years.
“She has improved her shooting and ball handling,” he said.
More importantly, the second-year head coach has seen Lewandowski develop as a leader for the team.
“Her overall confidence has improved,” he said. “She’s one of our captains and our 3-point shooter.”
Lewandowski also took the initiative of assisting her younger teammates during summer workouts.
“I tried to show them how to finish a layup strong, hold their shot more, and encourage them at the foul line,” she said.
She tries to emulate the moves of her favorite basketball player: Adreian Payne of Michigan State.
“Since he’s a post player, I try to learn new things that he does like going up strong to the basket,” she said.
She credits Fitzsimmons’ tutelage for her teaching her to become more of a team player.
According to Lewandowski, the team’s close bond both on and off the court has led to their improved play thorough the season.
“We work really hard and push through tough times when we’re down,” she said. “We try to do things together outside of school. Sometimes we go out to dinner or play laser tag.
“We get along so well and it really works to our advantage during games.”
Lewandowski is most proud of the team’s win on Jan. 29 at Susquehanna.
“It was against our old head coach, Errol Mannick, so it was a big game,” he said. “We ended up winning by one point, it was really exciting.”
After a 1-11 start to the season, the Lady Lions have gone 3-3 over their last six games.
“We’re getting healthy,” Fitzsimmons said. “We were missing some people early in the year. Losing your leading scorer (Melissa Grimm) for five games is a lot to deal with. We were banged up and sick and our exhibition schedule was brutal. We played against a lot of Class AAA schools and that adds up to, sometimes, a lot of quick losses.”
Lewandowski, a 3-point specialist, has been working to broaden her offensive game. She is currently tied for sixth in the Lackawanna League with 1.5 3-pointers made per game.
“I’m mostly an outside shooter, I focus on 3-pointers, but I also really want to focus on driving to the basket more,” she said.
Lewandowski, 17, is the daughter of Darren and Renee Lewandowski. She also plays softball and field hockey, and is a member of Student Council.