Lorusso scores 1,000th point for Canon-McMilla

Published Feb 4, 2014 at 2:52 pm (Updated Feb 4, 2014 at 2:52 pm)

Canon-McMillan girls’ basketball coach Frank Zebrasky describes Olivia Lorusso as a gifted athlete. And, while that may be a true statement because she recently surpassed the 1,000-point plateau and is perched to pull down 1,000 career rebounds, the 17-year-old senior is also a gifted girl, who by her own admission will make a good wife.

In addition to her exploits in basketball, her state championship in softball and her skills as a middle hitter on a section winning volleyball squad, Lorusso manages a 4.0 in the classroom, earned a scholarship to Robert Morris University, works at Bella Sera in Canonsburg, rides quads and cleans to off set her car and cell phone bills.

“It’s hard,” she said of her chores. “My room, especially, and we have hardwood floors throughout (my home). I guess,” she sighed, “I’ll be a good house mom some day.”

Today, however, she is a talented athlete, focused on getting the Lady Macs into the WPIAL Quad-A basketball tournament. Heading into Feb 6’s fray at Peters Township, they were battling Baldwin for the fourth and final playoff slot in Section 4. Lorusso averages 15.3 points, 13 rebounds and 4.5 assists, an increase from her two dishes last year.

“Olivia possesses the ability to create her own scoring opportunities as well as scoring within a structured offensive attack,” explained Zebrasky. “She rebounds, attacks and looks to find an open teammate usually first before trying to score herself.”

Lorusso is about winning. Thus, while her 20 points enabled her to achieve a personal milestone, she was disappointed Canon-McMillan dropped a 72-60 decision recently at home against Upper St. Clair.

“Overall the goal was to win,” she explained “The loss takes away from the feeling. I’m happy about the accomplishment but it would have been better had we not lost. It means more to me and the team to win the game.”

One thousand points, however, means much at Canon-McMillan because, according to Zebrasky, only three other girls have achieved the feat. Emily Hanson, who topped 1,000 points most recently, set the bar for Lorusso. “I thought about (1,000) after I watched Emily do it. My sophomore year, I talked to my coaches about it and they thought it was a good goal so that’s what I shot for.

“It was exciting but when the moment came it was emotionally draining because you worked hard for it and you looked forward to the day it would happen but at the same time you are relieved to get it.”

Relief came in mid-July of 2013 when Lorusso committed to Robert Morris University, where she will play softball for the Colonials and major in economics. The University of Pittsburgh and Marist College also recruited Lorusso.

“RMU was close and it just felt homey. I’m not a big city girl,” explained Lorusso. “RMU was the calm, ideal university setting. It felt right. It exceeded everything for me.”

Lorusso, who hopes to become a lawyer some day, says that she picked the diamond over the basketball court because she said that you can do more with softball.

Of basketball she said, “I’ll miss it a lot. It’s a piece of me that I will have to let go but I don’t know what I will do without it.”

Canon-McMillan wouldn’t know what it would do without Lorusso in softball. A third baseman, she has led the Lady Macs to back-to-back WPIAL titles and last year’s state championship, an extra-inning victory, 4-3, against Neshaminy. The all-state and Almanac Diamond Dozen performer hit .390 with seven home runs and a team-high 35 RBIs. She also drilled nine doubles, tagged three triples and scored 29 runs.

Winning the state championship in softball has been the “absolute” highlight of her scholastic career.

“I will always remember that moment, getting the last out on the field, the sigh of relief and running into the arms of my teammates,” she said. “It was awesome when it was over and we had accomplished the greatest victory of all. I could not imagine losing that game.

“And the way Neshaminy must have felt after that long, hard game,” Lorusso empathized. “They were amazing. They provided us the best competition we will ever face. Throughout the process, we did not play a team that I’d consider as talented and that had given us problem. It was a great test. That’s why the championship is so special.”

Even though the Big Macs have lost key components, including pitcher Alayna Astuto, from last year’s 25-1 squad, Lorrusso is anxious to replicate that special feeling. Because she says that she doesn’t like snow, Lorusso cannot wait for the spring thaw to pick up a bat and help Canon-Mac commence defense of its titles.

“We did lose a couple of key people and that will take an emotional tool but we need to overcome that,” Lorusso said. “We have a lot of good sophomores and freshmen who can fill the gaps. Winning the WPIAL title is within our reach.” A state playoff run, she added, is “definitely a possibility.”

Should they beat Peters Township and Bethel Park defeat Baldwin in the Section 4 finale, the Lady Macs would reach the WPIAL playoffs in basketball. After that, Lorusso predicts, anything is possible regarding rebounds and records. “The goals is to win as many games in the playoffs,” she said. “As long as we get in and have a good run, anything could happen. If I get (1,000) rebounds, then that means we are winning. The idea is to go out and win games. If you score, then that helps the team win. If you get rebounds, that will help, too.”

Olivia Lorusso File

Age: 17

Parents: Bart and Raechel

Siblings: Sarah, 27; Bart, 16

School: Canon-McMillan

Sports: Basketball, softball, volleyball

GPA: 4.0; 4.3 last semester.

Favorite class: Forensics and algebra

College choice: Robert Morris University

Major: Economics.

Career choice: Lawyer

Favorite song: My Redeemer Lives

Favorite radio station: K-Love 98.3

Favorite food: Chicken wings and chocolate milk

Best wings: Quaker Steak and Lube.

Secret hiding place: My backyard. We have a lot of land and I like to walk in the woods, run or ride my quad there and let go when I am stressed or want to get away from things.

Best read: “The Pact” by Jodi Picoult

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