Saturday, December 03, 2022

Sports Person of the Week

Criscuolo Pilots the T-Birds at the Point


Sophomore Keana Criscuolo is making plays as the starting point for the North Branford girls’ basketball team this season. Photo courtesy of Keana Criscuolo

Sophomore Keana Criscuolo is making plays as the starting point for the North Branford girls’ basketball team this season. (Photo courtesy of Keana Criscuolo)

After being one of the first players off the bench as a freshman, Keana Crisucolo has earned the starting varsity point guard role for the North Branford girls’ basketball team in her sophomore year. Now directing the offense, Keana helped the Thunderbirds enjoy an excellent regular season in which they went 14-6 this winter.

Keana began playing basketball in North Branford’s recreational league at age four. Keanna was encouraged to play by her father Bill, who was a basketball player at Lee High School in New Haven. Keana says that her father has always motivated her to perform her best on the court.

“My dad played in high school, and he wanted to get me and my siblings involved in sports. He has really pushed me to do better in all of my athletics,” says Keana. “He coached me for a couple of years. He’s always practicing with me outside. He has helped me get into camps and helped me improve my skills.”

Keana continued playing in the rec league until middle school, when she joined North Branford Intermediate School team, along with the town’s travel league. Keana also played for the Connecticut Cobras on the AAU circuit during her 5th- and 6th-grade seasons. At every stop, Keana developed her both basketball skills and a desire to continually improve.

Keana was cross-rostered between North Branford’s varsity and JV teams in her freshman year. With the varsity squad, Keana filled a “sixth man off the bench” role as a super sub for the Thunderbirds. Keana felt that she had to prove herself while holding an important role in her first year with the program.

“It was definitely difficult. It was harder for me being on the court with a bunch of older girls who didn’t see me as being that leader,” Keana says. “I had to step up and show what I can do. I had to prove myself. It really helped me grow.”

Entering her sophomore season, Keana prepared herself to take on the starting varsity point guard spot. While Keana put in the work, there were also numerous people who supported her. Those people included North Branford Head Coach Sabrina LeMere, along with Keana’s father and her mother Michele, older sister Charliana, and younger brother Billy.

Everyone encouraged Keana to be confident and more of a leader, and she took that advice to heart. Now, whenever she steps on the court, Keana is more vocal and willing to either drive to the paint or help facilitate the best possible shot for the offense.

While only a sophomore, Keana understands her job and the responsibilities that come with it.

“The competition is a lot harder, so I had to be more aggressive. I had to use my skills more wisely, rather than just going out there with no thought to it,” says Keana. “It really pushed me to help my teammates become one cohesive unit. We had to use all aspects of the game to win games.”

Keana has plenty experience as a point guard after having played the position throughout her career. However, once she became North Branford’s starter at the point, Keana saw position from a different lens and knew that she needed to do different things in order to succeed.

“It’s my job to see everything on the court and make the play. It’s a lot of pressure on me, but it builds my character and my confidence,” Keana says. “This year it has really helped me break out of my shell and become more of a leader. I knew I had to fill a bigger role.”

After encouraging her heading into the season, Coach LeMere has seen Keana flourish as North Branford’s point guard. LeMere says that Keana is excelling in her role as the team’s primary ball-handler and is competing with plenty of grit for the T-Birds.

“Keana has done a great job as our primary point guard this year. Her calm composure and drive to score has really added to our success,” says LeMere. “Keana has been efficient on both ends of the court. She is always someone I can look to when it comes to picking up the speed of the game. Whenever our games get down to the wire, Keana is the girl to get the ball to. She is a great teammate and wants the best for the team.”

Along with basketball, Keana is also a member of the T-Birds’ field hockey and girls’ lacrosse teams. Keana feels that playing three sports helps her grow in all aspects as an athlete. After helping both the field hockey and lacrosse squads win Shoreline Conference titles last year, Keanna has a better appreciation for the competition and North Branford sports as a whole.

In just her second year of high school, Keana has already earned herself a pivotal role with the Thunderbirds. Keana is up for the challenge and looks forward to representing North Branford for years to come.

“It means everything to me. Being able to be on that court and show what I can do really makes me proud to be a Thunderbird,” Keana says. “I’m proud to play for this high school and want to help get our name on the map.”

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