Back-to-back WPIAL semifinal appearances, two berths in the PIAA playoffs and a trip to Palumbo Center last season, South Park senior Shelby Lindsay is not about to take any of her team's postseason success for granted.
Lindsay, a four-year starter, can remember the bitter feeling of a first-round playoff exit. The Eagles were one and done in the playoffs in Lindsay's freshman and sophomore seasons.
Those early losses made a run to the WPIAL final and PIAA quarterfinals last season that much more enjoyable for her.
South Park went 19-2 during the regular season, including a 12-0 record in Class AAA Section 5 to win its third consecutive section title. South Park earned the No. 3 seed in the WPIAL playoffs and rode that seed to a WPIAL championship, defeating Elizabeth Forward, 50-32, Saturday in the Class AAA finale at Palumbo Center.
Lindsay has proven to be one of the top scorers and one of the most consistent scorers in the WPIAL. She led the Eagles, averaging 17.8 points per game during the regular season. In the playoffs, that average went up as she scored 20 in a 54-38 first-round win against Indiana and 18 in a 68-37 quarterfinal win against Hampton. Both performances were game-highs.
"My first two years we were knocked out in the first round," Lindsay recalled. "It was really eye-opening to see how quickly it can end. It keeps you on your toes, it lets us know the urgency of everything."
Lindsay, a 5-foot-11 senior, runs the point guard position for South Park, although her true position is as a shooting guard.
"She really can play anywhere," South Park coach Reggie Wells said. "We need her to run our offense instead of her just being able to be in her normal position, but she plays the point well."
Teams have employed a number of different strategies to attempt to contain Lindsay. With her ability to drive to the basket and her outside shooting range, she can be a matchup nightmare for opposing coaches.
"Some teams will try to play her loose around the perimeter because they don't want her to get to the basket, but then she will hit an outside shot," Wells said. "Other teams won't give her the chance to take a shot because she does have a great shot. Then she'll attack the basket."
Wells has seen firsthand Lindsay's development from a starting freshman to one of the premier players in the WPIAL.
"You can see her maturity," Wells said. "When she came in as a freshman, she was strong and played carefree, just going after it. Then she started getting more cerebral and now she is getting the ball to her teammates and taking better shots, those type of little things."
South Park is far from a one-player show. Forward Allison McGrath is one of the top freshmen in the WPIAL. McGrath along with junior forward Halie Torris and senior center Breanna Raymond give South Park one of the strongest front courts in Class AAA.
"We are really close as a team," Lindsay said. "We are a really tight team."
McGrath scored 18 against Hampton and Torris added 15. In the first round Torris scored 12 and Raymond added 10. In the championship game, McGrath and Torris shared high-scoring honors with 13 points apiece.
Lindsay has never had a problem sharing the ball and getting her teammates involved.
"Sometimes we have to keep reminding her that she needs to be the one to attack," Wells said. "She has always been an unselfish one."
South Park begins its PIAA tournament run against District 10 third-place finisher Hickory at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Baldwin.