Without having to gush over her abilities on the court, St. Joseph’s University’s women’s basketball coach Cindy Griffin gave Nanticoke Area’s Sarah Acker a tremendous compliment.
“Coach Griffin actually told me that if they got Sarah Acker, she was guaranteed a job for the next four years,” Nanticoke Area coach Jack Rentko said. “That is such a great thing for a coach to say.”
If that’s the case, Griffin can keep her whistle around her neck and her office intact as Acker made a verbal commitment to accept a full athletic scholarship to play Division I basketball for the Hawks.
The Trojanettes’ 6-foot-3 senior center decided on St. Joseph’s over Penn State.
“I went to St. Joe’s on Thursday and it was my third visit,” Acker said. “I loved Penn State, but there was something about St. Joe’s that kept pulling me back. The people there are great, the program is great and I just felt I would really fit in there.”
Acker has been a dominating force in the paint the past three seasons for Nanticoke Area. She’s racked up 1,250 career points, 1,300 rebounds and 570 blocked shots.
She was also named a Class AAA third-team all-state selection as a junior after helping the Trojanettes to a 29-1 record.
While her size and strength under the boards were often too much for other post players to handle in the Wyoming Valley Conference, Acker said she is is confident going up against Division I players with similar abilities.
“I’ve been getting a lot more practice playing against girls my size,” said Acker, who plays for the Fencor AAU team during the summer. “But I’m comfortable taking an outside shot, too.”
Rentko has been working with Acker on her versatility on the court and last year she proved to be a threat inside and outside the lane.
She closed out her junior year averaging 18.6 points per game and 15.6 rebounds.
Her dominance was obvious in Nanticoke Area’s game against Oxford in the second round of the PIAA playoffs.
Acker scored 14 of the Trojanettes’ 16 first-half points. The Trojanettes lost that game, 39-35, with Acker fouling out in the fourth quarter.
“For a kid her size, she has great quickness,” Rentko said. “She’s the type of center that can have the basket behind her or in front of her. We knew she could be a power center, but she runs the floor really well and she has good foot skills so we wanted her to get more moves to the basket. There are times when she beats our guards with her first step.”
Acker will join a St. Joe’s program that competes in the Atlantic 10 and finished 21-11 in 2006, good enough to earn a berth in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.
She had the opportunity to see the Hawks knock off Temple, 65-64, in a league game in January and was impressed with their tactics.
“I actually think they play a lot like (Nanticoke Area’s) style of play,” said the 17-year old daughter of Lorraine and Terry Acker of Nanticoke. “And the closeness of their team is a lot like ours. Now I’m hoping to find some fans like we have...like Aly Byorick’s (Trojanette teammate) grandfather and his friends that come to all of our Nanticoke games.”
Before Acker suits up for the Hawks, she has one more year to wear her Trojanette uniform.
This season, however, may prove a bit less stressful.
“Now I can go out and play and have fun,” Acker said. “But still be serious, of course.”