Junior guards Appleby and Adisey carrying GCC girls toward special season

| Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, 8:55 p.m.

Carolyn Appleby and Nikki Adisey are hungry to score and ferocious while defending.

Opposing teams would have trouble fending off just one of them, and the fact that there are two goes a long way in explaining how Greensburg Central Catholic is tearing through its section with such cool efficiency.

The junior guards are both averaging double figures in points for the Centurions, who entered the week 7-0 in Section 3-AA. Thanks in large part to Appleby and Adisey, those games haven't been particularly close, as GCC's average margin of victory against section opponents is almost 40 points.

“Those two, they make it go,” said Joe Eisaman, whose Centurions are 11-3 overall in his first year as their coach. “Holding them back is the hardest part. Keeping them out of foul trouble and holding them back.”

GCC has been able to score so many points while keeping other teams to so few because Appleby and Adisey are versatile offensive threats — capable of driving and shooting as well as finding open teammates with passes — who excel at causing turnovers on defense. They are perfect catalysts for the fast-paced, aggressive style of play that Eisaman loves to see.

In GCC's most recent contest, a 72-54 romp over Class AAAA McKeesport as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Backyard Brawlz at Seton Hill, Appleby scored a season-high 31 points and Adisey added 21 more.

For the season, Appleby is averaging 19.9 points, along with 3.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.7 steals. Adisey, meanwhile, has scored 13.6 points a game, with 2.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 3.0 steals.

While there's no denying the skills that Appleby and Adisey use to produce results for GCC, the comfort level they have developed with each other plays a significant part as well. The girls met in fourth grade and began playing basketball with each other in sixth. As softball players, they qualified for the Little League World Series twice, with Appleby's father coaching the West Point team.

“We just kind of developed a strong friendship and we've played together for years, softball and basketball,” Adisey said. “It's so easy to play with someone you have such great chemistry with, who you're such great friends with.”

Each girl, a starter for GCC since freshman year, finds it easy to communicate with the other and generally knows where the other is positioned on the court at all times. They also share a trust that complements their combined talents that much more.

“She's one of my best friends,” Appleby said. “I just love playing basketball with her. It's just a good time. We work well together.

“We do have a really good chemistry and it really helps out our team. I just think that, since we've been playing together so long, we really know how each of us plays the game and it really factors on the court.”

Appleby and Adisey are captains, as is fellow junior Leah Bisignani, the team's center. In addition to leading the Centurions in rebounding and blocked shots, Bisignani also paces the team with 38 assists, contributing to the offense much more than her 8.1 points per game might suggest.

“When she gets a defensive rebound, she gets it out of her hands quick,” Eisaman said of Bisignani, who has known Appleby even longer than Adisey has. “We get into that break so fast. That's where it all begins, right there.”

With size and speed, experience and ability, the Centurions seem well-positioned to appear in the WPIAL Class AA championship game at Palumbo Center, the destination they hope to reach. Appleby and Adisey are trying to take them there.

“They play off each other,” Eisaman said. “We've seen games where maybe one girl isn't having a great game, but the other one is. I've never seen them both really have a bad game. But when they're both on, it's something to see.”

Mark Emery is a freelance writer.

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