GIRLS BASKETBALL: Old Forge’s Rios Is Board Room Whiz

February 28, 2019
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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Old Forge's Rios Is Board Room Whiz

OLD FORGE — She may be just a sophomore, but Old Forge’s Angelina Rios has a basketball goal in mind. She expects to be her team’s best rebounder. The undersized post player knows better than most that the route to chairman of the boards goes through a different room. “She’s just super strong,” said junior guard Lindsey Welsh, herself a very good rebounder. “In the offseason, she worked super hard when we were down in the weight room and that definitely contributed, you could see, to how much that helps her on the court.” In last week’s District 2 Class 2A semifinal romp past Blue Ridge, Rios collected 11 rebounds — nine coming on the offensive glass. The 5-foot-5 Rios is hoping for another productive day Friday at 4 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena when her Lady Devils take on Holy Cross for the district championship. Both teams have qualified for the PIAA tournament that starts the following weekend. “She’s strong,” Old Forge coach Ron Stacchiotti said. “In the offseason, you won’t believe what she squats — over 300 pounds, 325, maybe even more. She’s got very strong legs. “And when she boxes you out, you’re going to know it. That’s where she gets it. And she rebounds. She goes after the ball and grabs it. She’s aggressive in everything she does.” Having a nose for the ball is something that comes easily to Rios. “It’s like your baby so you go up and just grab it,” Rios said. “You’ve got to know who wants it more.” That’s something Welsh has learned in two years as teammates. “As soon as I see her go for the rebound I get out of the way because I know she’s going to get it,” Welsh said. “I know she can take it out of anyone’s hands. “With the amount of time that she’s been given to get to where she is now, it’s incredible. I can’t even describe it. She’s awesome.” Rios transformation from bench player to a starting role in less than a year may surprise some, but it’s not just rebounding that got her more playing time. “She’s probably one of our best players stopping a fast break because of how quick she is getting back,” Stacchiotti said. “She knows how to get in front of people — and I don’t know where she learned that from but she knew that — and she stops the fast break. “She makes things happen. When she goes in the game, she’s like a catalyst. She makes things go. She starts things up for us a little bit.” Having a role model around like big brother Anthony Rios, a senior and a Lackawanna League football all-star, helped her develop her own resolve. “I look at my brother and he’s a famous football player,” Angelina said. “He gets big and aggressive more when he lifts. So I was like, OK, let me try it. Two years ago I got interested in lifting and every single time I went lifting, I want to go a step higher. More weight to get bigger, tougher and more aggressive. “Everyone looks at Anthony and says, ‘He is determined to be a football star.’ Angelina shares a similar mindset and wants to be the basketball standout in the family. To do that, she has to become a more consistent scorer. “It’s frustrating because the coaches say I need to jump more, I need to get off my feet when I’m going up for the layup,” Rios said. “Sometimes in the excitement, I don’t really do it. I get my rebounds but it still doesn’t connect. “I also need to learn to not foul a lot because sometimes I’m too aggressive and I let that take over. I need to control it and steady the fouls. I know I can handle it. I know some of my fouls are silly. I think I’ll learn to use my feet and be quicker on my feet.” But there’s one area that needs little improvement, as a role model in the weight room, where she is three to four days during the season. “You’ve got to be really dedicated,” Rios said. “And I really want to get strong in order to win the game, which is the main goal.” Contact the writer: mmyers@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9100, ext. 5437; @mmyersTT on Twitter