Archive for Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Driven to distribute

Pistora’s passing skills honed at home

April 3, 2007


Tonganoxie High senior Ali Pistora learned to set up teammates from an early age.

When her family shot baskets in their driveway, her older brother, Zack, and father, Joe, insisted on hoisting the majority of the jumpers.

"It starts with my brother playing and always having to pass him the ball," Pistora said. "And my Dad never let me shoot. He made me pass it to him all the time."

Pistora ultimately would develop into Tonganoxie's main distributor, the biggest asset in an all-around game that led to her being named the All-Area Girls Basketball Player of the Year for the second consecutive year.

Although Tonganoxie girls basketball coach Randy Kraft encouraged his pass-first guard to score more, Pistora possesses myriad skills. She can shoot, control the boards and defend the passing lanes, with the latter attribute evidenced by her team lead in steals.

"I'd do it all," she said.

Perhaps most impressively, Pistora had a knack for snatching a rebound and then launching an accurate cross-court pass to feed a teammate for an easy layup.

"That stands out for me," Kraft said. "I don't see a lot of high school girls with that ability."

The Chieftains' point guard, who began playing recreation-league basketball during the second grade, used her 6-foot frame to not only secure those rebounds, but also see over defenders.

"I have the height advantage for my position," she said. "It's easy to get them behind you or shoot over them."

As one of four seniors on a 23-3 team that finished fourth at this year's Class 4A state tournament, Pistora provided instruction in team huddles and encouragement in the locker room.

"I am a verbal leader," she said before laughing. "My players can vouch for that."

Pistora's days of leading a basketball team, however, have ended. She has not decided which college to attend, but is considering Kansas University, Kansas State University and a few out-of-state schools. Instead of playing college basketball, she will focus on rehabilitating other aspiring athletes.

"I want to go into physical therapy," she said. "I want to do something that's around sports and around your body's muscularity."

After hanging up the basketball jersey, Pistora will miss the atmosphere of Tonganoxie's gym. She labeled the raucous environment during this winter's sub-state final win against Basehor-Linwood her favorite basketball moment of the year.

"It just blew you away," she said. "We have the best fans in the world ... The stands that we have at Tongie - they're just filled to the brim."

Pistora has one more athletic season - she will compete in the high jump and javelin this spring for the Tonganoxie track and field team. But as far as basketball goes, she will cherish her accomplishments while returning to the roots of her basketball development.

"You can always go outside and shoot on your basket," she said, "and have those memories."


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