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Shaler's Duritza working way toward being ready for Marietta College

| Sunday, July 23, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
Shaler's Alliya Duritza practices Nov. 23, 2016, at Shaler.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Shaler's Alliya Duritza practices Nov. 23, 2016, at Shaler.
Shaler's Rylee Donovan (right) and Alliya Duritza talk with coach Cornelious Nesbit during practice Nov. 23, 2016, at Shaler.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Shaler's Rylee Donovan (right) and Alliya Duritza talk with coach Cornelious Nesbit during practice Nov. 23, 2016, at Shaler.

Finally being cleared to return to the court after seventh months off was a good feeling for Alliya Duritza. The 5-foot-11 forward wants to get prepared for her collegiate basketball career at Marietta.

Duritza, a recent Shaler graduate, has attended open gyms at her alma mater and is working on getting her skills in tune. She isn't cleared for contact or scrimmaging after suffering an ACL tear in Shaler's season opener last season.

“You have to work every day to get better and get stronger,” Duritza said. “You have to let go of the fear that I might be weak at this now, but it's going to get better. You're going to get stronger and get better at different things like jumping and cutting.”

Against St. Mary's Ryken, Duritza scored five points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a 53-40 win at the She Got Game Classic on Dec. 16, 2016, in Washington, D.C. Shaler finished last season with an 11-11 record.

“The biggest thing for her is adapting to the speed of the game with a shot clock,” Titans coach Cornelious Nesbit said. “There's an importance with getting shots up and getting up and down the floor. Adjusting to the speed of the game will be big for her. Just her mind with being comfortable and being out there playing, her mindset of once she gets on the floor, knowing she will be healthy.”

Duritza hated having to tell two different groups of people her season was over.

“My first thought was the team,” Duritza said. “I knew it could have been a good season, and we could have done great things as a team. I was unsure of how to tell them I'm not going to play well this season. You guys need to step it up and fill in.”

She also didn't want to have to tell the Marietta coaches. Marietta, which finished 16-11 last season, competes in the Divison III Ohio Athletic Conference.

“It (stunk) to tell them I tore my ACL, and I'll be out for the season,” Duritza said. “They were supportive and said, ‘Take your time, and you'll get back eventually.' ”

Nesbit thinks Duritza has the mental mindset to bounce back.

“She has a high basketball IQ,” Nesbit said. “She knows the game, and she is a forward who can shoot, dribble and pass, which is unique.”

Getting back to work is the first step to showcasing her skills.

Rebuilding her game as her body recovers presents opportunities to learn and improve.

“Obviously, I'm lacking in some areas, but have been better in others,” Duritza said. “I think that's going to help, especially coming back practically as the season starts and getting back in the flow of everything.”

Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.

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