After a difficult 0-4 start last season, Fannett-Metal girls basketball has revamped in the new season.
The Tigers started the season 3-0 for the first time since 2004, when their emerging star was just 4 years old.
In its spectacular start, Fannett-Metal outscored its first two opponents 135-78, then pulled a key upset over Tussey Mountain, Thursday, led by sophomore Ally Hoffmann.
In three games, she's become an offensive threat that District 5 will not be able to ignore. Hoffman is Public Opinion's Female Athlete of the Week.
But for Hoffmann and the Tigers, it's been a summer in the making.
In the offseason, the girls basketball team participated in clinics and camps to not only take the team to the next level, but to become a family.
"Since we have been hanging out all summer long, we really got to know each other," Hoffmann said.
In the offseason, Hoffmann was taught specific skills to become an effective point guard and learned technique to improve her shot, which has been working.
She broke her career-high scoring record in Fannett-Metal's opener against Cumberland Valley Christian, in which she scored 18 points; then crushed it again, scoring 25 points in the Tigers' next outing. Last season, she scored a season-high 17 points in the first game of the season, and averaged 5.4 points per game.
Against Tussey Mountain, Hoffman scored 15 much-needed points as the Tigers successfully pulled off the 49-43 upset.
"I was really nervous, but then when I got out there I just started to fall into what I knew I should do," Hoffmann said. "And knowing where my team would be, and that we were all on the same page, has helped."
She's gained enough attention, it won't be long before teams begin to attempt to shut the young shooter down.
But F-M coach Todd Best isn't worried.
"We are hoping to move to a two-pronged attack," Best said, looking to focus on Hoffmann and Taylor Coffman, who is working her way back to playing shape after an injury. "Ally has quick feet and she's been able to grab a lot of rebounds. She has a knack of finding the ball on the rebound, and turning defense into offense. She's really filling the stat sheet in every category right now."
The Tigers are young, and with a majority of the roster composed of underclassmen, Hoffmann has the opportunity to step up as one of the youngest leaders in the area, and not just on the score sheet.
"Ally has been there all along with her teammates," Best said. "As a sophomore she's definitely one of our leaders, and we talked to her about developing as our leader on and off the court. The girls are watching and her work ethic is going to be contagious. I think she's going to thrive in that role."
Her leadership is a main component in the young team's composure in pressure situations, but Best admits that other than the game against Tussey Mountain, the team has not faced much hardship.
"We will see as a young team how we handle adversity," Best said. "We are quietly growing more confident, with the realization that we have a tough season ahead of us. But win, lose or draw we want to get better.
"Ally has really taken control of the game. The game has really slowed down for her, and I can't tell you how many other points were scored because of something she did."
Ally Hoffmann, Fannett-Metal
Sport: Girls basketball
Position: Point guard
Parents: Marnie and Chad Hoffmann
Other interests: Hoffmann runs track and enjoys hanging out with her friends and family. She also plays AAU basketball.
Surprising fact: Hoffmann had one of the lead roles in Fannett-Metal's drama production of "Did Someone Say Murder?" last year.
Three people she'd like to have dinner with: Dr. Pol, Stephen Curry and Alex Morgan.
Statistics: Hoffmann scored career-high 25 points against Belleville Mennonite, and she also grabbed 9 rebounds and had 6 steals in the win ... In Fannett-Metal's victory over Tussey Mountain, she scored 15 points and had 7 assists.