The accolades continue to pile up at Old Forge.
The latest comes from senior girls basketball player Lauren Carey, who was named to the Class A all-state team as a first-team member after leading the Lady Devils to a second-place runner-up finish in the state tournament.
Carey remembered what it was like to watch the school’s football team claim a runner-up finish back in December.
“It was incredible being on the other end,” Carey said. “Going down the night before and staying in a hotel. It was amazing to get in the state final with my team.”
Reaching the Giant Center in Hershey may have also played a role in the senior getting honored with her first-team all-state berth, much as the football team having seven players gain all-state recognition after its game at HersheyPark Stadium.
“I did not think about (making the all-state team) until after the state title game,” Carey said. “I wondered if I made the step up to the second team after making the third team last year.
“I’m really excited about making the first team.”
Old Forge head coach Tom Gatto wasn’t surprised his senior got the recognition. He’s had a first-hand look at Carey’s game for four years, and has many memories of what she has meant to the Lady Devils program.
“(I’ll remember) the way she went about playing. She never quit,” Gatto said. “She has always been a team player, and she’s good in the classroom.”
Gatto has seen Carey since she was a freshman, and when he got down to it, hasn’t seen much change with her.
“There have been no surprises, because she’s been doing it that way since she entered the program,” Gatto said. “She kept improving. She could rebound as a freshman; she handled the ball, and kept improving her shooting every year.
“She always worked on everything, every year.”
What that all meant to Gatto was that he had someone he could count on every game.
“She did what we expected,” Gatto said. “She did what she’s been doing for four years, and she topped off the first three years with another year of hard work.”
It took awhile for Carey to figure out what she did best, because she was so versatile and did pretty much everything for the Lady Devils.
“I guess I was good at pushing the ball up the floor,” Carey said.
Her ability to take on taller defenders without fear, and to be able to find a way to make an impact on the game no matter the opponents also are parts of the package the senior brought to the court every game. Carey led Old Forge in scoring in three of the five state games, including both the state semifinal and final.
That was one instance of Carey’s leadership skills.
“She’s one of the leaders on the team, but the seniors have been playing like that for three years,” Gatto said. “She leads by her work ethic. She’s not a yeller; she leads by example.”
“I didn’t lead the team by myself, all of the seniors did,” Carey said. “We spent so much time together; I knew what they were going to do. We were very comfortable on the court.”
Alas, the state final will be the last time she suits up in an Old Forge uniform as the torn meniscus in her left knee will need surgery and she won’t be able to play softball for the Lady Devils.
“I suppose we’ll schedule a surgery,” Carey said. “I tried to swing a bat, and it hurts to pivot.”
While the injury occurred early in the state playoff run, that she was able to play through the pain showed Carey’s toughness and grittiness.
“I’m going to miss her. She’s one of the best players I’ve had come through the program,” Gatto said. “She’s always rebounded, always has been quick on defense, but she’s improved every year.”
With her all-around play recognized on a state-wide level, Carey added another memory to what is proving to be a remarkable school year at Old Forge.