When Frank Sciolla took over as the girls’ basketball coach at Pennsbury in 2016, one of his goals was to keep the homegrown talent in the school district’s three middle schools at home.
At that time, there was a talented young lady who was not only attending one of those middle schools but living under Sciolla’s roof.
Sophomore point guard Ava Sciolla decided that Pennsbury was the place to play where she could continue playing for her father. She was a member of Frank Sciolla’s Mid-Atlantic Magic AAU team and since coming to Pennsbury, she has been tearing it up as an essential piece in her father’s rebuilding project in Fairless Hills.
So what’s it like playing for your father?
“I can’t imagine myself without having my dad on the sideline, which I know that I’m going to have to get over pretty soon,” Sciolla said. “But I think that my dad and I work really well together. I think that we communicate well on and off the court and our communication during the game translates to everyone else on the team.
“When sometimes if there’s something that he can’t quite convey through words, I can show them what we’re playing. I think we work well. I enjoy having him as my coach.”
From the coach’s perspective, things have worked out well due in part to a rule he has put in place.
“I love our relationship,” Frank Sciolla said. “I have had a rule in for many years — you’re not allowed to talk about basketball in the car after a game and you’re not allowed to talk about basketball at home. And she’s pretty good with that.”
Ava has not missed a game during her first two seasons. As a freshman, she averaged 11.8 points per game, and this season, she is averaging 14.6 points and 9.1 rebounds. She has turned the ball over just 72 times in 54 career games, has scored 711 points, and is on pace to score her 1,000th career point next season.
In the District 1 Class 6A championship game on Saturday, she struck for 18 points against Central Bucks West in a 42-38 loss. Held to four points in the first half, Sciolla did what she does best in the second. She played tenacious defense, grabbed rebounds, and shot 7-for-13 from the floor on a variety of jumpers, layups and follow shots as she rallied her team.
“Ava can create her own shots and score at all three levels,” Frank Sciolla said. “The ability to finish with either hand and get her own shot has really augmented our team’s ability to score. It was one thing to rely on her for getting us into an offense and her press-breaking ability and her seeing the floor. Now she just has been so focused on scoring. And what’s been cool about it is she still adheres to that idea of getting the best possible shot.”
Sciolla is already on appearing on the radar of several colleges. She is being recruited by Fordham, Dayton and “most of the Philly schools,” she said. But the only thing on her mind right now is playing in the PIAA Class 6A tournament. Pennsbury will play Red Lion, the fourth-place team from District 3, on Friday at Council Rock South at 6 p.m.
In 2015 when he was coaching Conwell-Egan’s boys’ team, Frank Sciolla guided the Eagles to the PIAA Class 2A state title. Ava was in Hershey that night and made her father a promise.