HERSHEY, Pa - Ciani Cryor is the floor general for the Neumann-Goretti girls' basketball team.
The fiery senior point guard constantly directs her teammates - pointing, pulling players aside, and shouting out orders.
Even before the contest, she's there - clapping, nodding, giving words of encouragement.
It's not a stretch to say the Georgia Tech recruit has swagger. But it's her passion for the game that has made her a dynamic player.
Her desire was on display Friday afternoon, as the Saints captured their first PIAA Class AA state title by defeating the defending champion, Seton-La Salle, 79-34.
The victory capped a 30-0 season for the Saints, who are ranked No. 1 in the country by USA Today. By beating Seton-La Salle, they avenged their only loss in the last two seasons and moved to 59-1 during that period.
The team's performance on the floor at the Giant Center was close to perfect for 32 minutes.
"It's really relieving that we won this game," Cryor said. "We proved to all the haters, everybody that went against us, didn't like us, wanted us to lose - we just proved them wrong."
Whether it was a three-pointer from A.J. Timbers, a bucket down low from Christina Aborowa, or a shot from the outside by Sianni Martin, Goretti executed its offense flawlessly against the Rebels (23-8).
And the defense - the Saints gave up only 16 first-half points - wasn't too bad either.
Last year, in the same game against the same opponent, the Saints came out timid, cold from the field, and not looking like themselves. This year, their prowess was never in question.
"Last year we were nervous - we had never seen a state championship before," said Timbers, who finished with a game-high 20 points. "Today, we came in here like it was a regular basketball game, so we said, 'Let's play regular basketball.' "
What's regular basketball for Goretti?
For starters, it is fast-paced and fun to watch. It also means sharing the basketball.
The sharing starts with Cryor, who finished with 11 points and 15 assists.
Cryor and Martin hugged as they waited to receive the trophy. As they embraced, Martin could feel Cryor's head drop.
"I would not have wanted to do it with anyone else but her," Martin said. "After the game I was the first person she came to. I didn't know what else to say to her except, 'We did it.' "
Cryor always wears her emotions on her sleeve. A passionate and competitive player, No. 5 saved perhaps the most personal moment - tears of joy - for her friend and teammate of the last eight years.
Yes, they did it.
Neumann-Goretti 17 26 23 13 - 79
Seton-La Salle 10 6 6 12 - 34
NG: A.J. Timbers 20, Sianni Martin 16, Christina Aborowa 13, Ciani Cryor 11, Kamiah Smalls 6, Alisha Kebbe 4, Erica Brown3, Melanie Schoolfield 2, Jabria Ingram 2, Jada Russell 2.
SL: Cassidy Walsh 11, Nicolete Newman 9, Shaunay Edmonds 4, Morgan Henderson 4, Giavanna Facchiano 2, Madalena Psillidis 2, Alexia Facchiano 2.