Varsity basketball duo drives through their fourth, final high school season together, showing friendship, leadership

SophiaVirgillito

The sports fans of the Metro-area are all too familiar with the names Aryannah Harrison and Celia Hacker. This point guard and shooting guard duo has started on Marian’s Varsity basketball team since their freshman year in the winter of 2017-18. 

Celia Hacker #10 and Aryannah Harrison #22 play defense against Millard South on Jan. 25, 2021.

As they are currently in their final high school season, the two lead their team in scoring.

In the week of Jan.7, both girls were ranked in the top ten of girls Class A scoring. Harrison averages 19.8 points per game, as Hacker follows with 13.6 points.

“Ary and C are definitely a threat on offense and defense. I’d say that they are harder to defend than most people are,” the third senior on the roster, teammate Kate Asselin, said.

This was reflected in Marian’s Jan. 5 win against previously second-ranked Millard South. 

Harrison scored 26 of the team’s 69 points and Hacker had 16 points, 9 of them being in the fourth quarter. 

Not only does Asselin compliment their abilities on the court, but also their attitudes. She notes their verbal motivation toward her and the team during games and practices. 

 “They’re really encouraging as teammates…Playing basketball with them for two years has been really fun and exciting. They’re also really good leaders for the underclassmen on the team. They put in the time and effort for the team and it pays off in the games.” 

Varsity head coach Mr. Peter Cunningham has watched the two athletes grow throughout their past years playing basketball for Marian. 

 “Their leadership has contributed to the success we have had so far this year. They have really made a point to be positive leaders who lead by example through their work ethic and competitiveness, but they also lead with their words by helping build their teammates up and establishing a strong level of trust on our Varsity team.”

As a leader, Hacker puts emphasis on the team’s closeness.

 “I feel like Ary and I have done a good job at making sure that we aren’t just ‘teammates’ on the court. We are friends on and off the court, and it’s very important to have a team that is close,” Hacker said.

The performance of the Crusaders is impacted by the two’s leadership and the team’s chemistry.

 “When one of them [Harrison and Hacker] is locked in and playing well, it helps our team and makes us better. When they are both locked in and playing well, we are a very dangerous team. Combine that with when our whole team is locked in and playing well, as we proved when we beat Millard South, we know we can compete with and beat anyone,” Cunningham said. 

The team’s current record is 7-8. Harrison said she believes this team has the ability to make it to the first couple rounds of the state tournament or even further. 

From the past three years, Marian has yet to make a state appearance. The Crusaders were last in a state match in 2010.

Losses and wins are not new for these two athletes. They’ve been playing basketball their whole lives, playing with and against each other. Harrison even played for the junior Crusaders from fourth grade until entering high school. 

They’ve learned from each other and built off the other’s playing techniques. 

“They know where each other will be on the floor and they have a strong sense of what the other will do when the ball is in their hands. That connection can be difficult to build, but when you do, you definitely notice the positive difference it makes on the floor. They are also really good friends which makes their connection even stronger,” Cunningham said. 

Not only have Harrison and Hacker played on Marian’s team together, but they have also been teammates on the Team Factory Girls Program. This past summer they both concluded their high school AAU careers on the U17 team. 

The two work together, Hacker even described them as a “unit.” Discussions about how they can help their team and each other are frequent after games and practices. 

When asked what is special about playing together on both Marian’s team and Team Factory, Harrison said, “It allows us to learn more about each other and the ways we both play, so that when the game comes, we are able to play and move off of each other better.”

Their connection is both on and off the court. “We just have always been each other’s cheerleaders, no matter if it was in basketball, soccer or even school,” Harrison also said.  

The two have supported each other throughout their careers. Both are committed to continue to play basketball in college as well. Harrison is to play at Peru State College and Hacker at Lake Superior State. 

As this duo drives through their fourth and final season together as Crusaders, they leave an impact on the Marian basketball program as leadership, friendship and culture remain.

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