One is blue. One is white.
Both look pretty in a trophy case.
Last month, the Solebury Spartans swept the first-ever Penn Jersey Athletic Association Player of the Year Awards. The PJAA Blue Division recognized senior Troy McGregor as MVP. Junior Paola Naughton of the Solebury girls basketball team earned the PJAA White Divisional Player of the Year honors.
Naughton averaged 12 points a game, twice tallying 20 points. Naughton has the size to play down low but is also an effective outside shooter.
“Paola is fun to watch because she has fun on the court and you can see that,” described Solebury Athletic Director Rob Eichem. “She is a good teammate. That enthusiasm is infectious.
“Troy is a fierce competitor who is capable of scoring 20 to 30 points on any given night. He finishes well,” continued Eichem, who is also an assistant boys basketball coach. “He is a fantastic shooter. He sees the floor well. His ability to pass, shoot and defend – he has the complete package.”
McGregor averaged over 25 points a game, finishing with 609 points this season and graduating with over 1,400 in his career. Seven times, McGregor scored 30 or more in a game – including the 77-75 win over Girard College in which McGregor was honored at halftime for his 1,000th career point and then sunk the winning shot.
“Everybody was there,” McGregor shared. “A lot of people I care about came to see me play and it was a good game, which came down to the wire.”
The Solebury boys (12-12) crushed Community Academy of Philadelphia 68-35 in PJAA quarterfinals. The Spartan girls (7-8) routed International Christian 51-13 in the PJAA first round. Both squads posted strong records in conference play. Solebury girls finished 5-2 while the boys went 7-3.
Naughton and McGregor agree that leadership is where they most improved this season. “Working with the new kids, since most of our team were freshmen or people who hadn’t played basketball before, I had to step up and learn how to communicate better,” Naughton explained. “I hadn’t had to do that in previous years.”
“There was a lot more on my shoulders this year in having a young team with a lot of sophomores and new faces. Stepping up, accepting that leadership role and being the senior captain was a huge deal for the team,” McGregor concurred.
Both players also elevated their games through family influence. McGregor’s brother Eric played at Trenton Catholic. Naughton’s brother Luca plays for Pace; Naughton’s mother serves as Solebury’s field hockey coach.
“Eric was really tough on me at a young age. He always pushed me to get better and he is the one who introduced me to basketball,” McGregor offered. “I found that passion and love for basketball through him and by watching him play. I always wanted to be better than him – that was my goal.”
“I probably wouldn’t have played basketball if I hadn’t seen my older brother play basketball,” Naughton admitted. “Now that he is in college and I am seeing him in a different dynamic – he is no longer the leader and he plays (in a reserve role) – I think that it has taught me to appreciate the position that I do have on this team.
“My mom has always given me a coach’s perspective on things. If I ever get frustrated at the coaching, she has been able to let me view it in a different way, which is helpful,” Naughton concluded.
McGregor emphasized that academic fit drives his future plans, but he has received several college hoops looks. This year, he modified his game from being more of a distributor to Solebury’s main scorer. “I worked on shooting every day. My shot was kind of flat towards the end of last year,” McGregor explained, “and I worked on getting more arc and legs in my jump shot. It helped because during the end of the season, my legs didn’t get as tired. I also got stronger and better conditioned.”
Naughton is happy to end her basketball career at Solebury next season and focus on academics. The lessons she learned from being a three-year captain are applicable to life. The captaincy “taught me to stay humble and appreciate the opportunities I’ve been given,” she shared. “When I was a freshman, I was not expected to be named captain. It made me want to work harder and figure out how to communicate better. I knew I might not get it in the coming years so I felt it also taught me to stay focused.”
“They’re both great kids,” Eichem concluded. “They’re great athletes and great kids in the classroom and outside of the classroom. They contribute a lot to the program.”