By Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)
Katie Tiffan knew she wanted to head somewhere warm after high school.
The Spring-Ford senior wanted to find a place to play high-level hoops as well.
Division II power Lynn University (Fla.) provided her an opportunity to do both in Boca Raton, Fla., making her commitment there earlier this fall. She inked her National Letter of Intent on Wednesday.
“It’s very exciting. It relieved a lot of stress off my shoulders and I now know where I’m going,” TIffan said last month. “The basketball in college is much higher intensity. Girls are way bigger and I just have to lift everyday to stay their size.”
Tiffan is a four-year varsity player for the Rams. She saw action in 18 games as a freshman when her older sister Emily helped lead Spring-Ford alongside Lucy Olsen to the PIAA title game.
She moved into the starting lineup in her sophomore campaign, averaging 7.2 ppg and 3.8 rpg on another Pioneer Athletic Conference champion team before averaging 8.7 ppg and 3.6 rpg as a junior last season.
The 5-11 guard has provided the Rams versatile defense and sharpshooting ability throughout her career, entering her senior campaign with 534 points and 76 3-point makes to her credit, including making 38 long balls on a 38 percent clip last season.
“(Lynn) liked how I’m a combo guard and I can pretty much guard 1 through 5,” Tiffan said. “They have a lot of bigs, so it’s good that I’m another shooter on the team. They were looking for more guards.”
Spring-Ford senior Katie Tifffan announced her commitment to Lynn University earlier this fall. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Spring-Ford head coach Mickey McDaniel has sent off a number of players to the next level during his tenure. He said Tiffan has the ability to get to the rim along with her shooting abliliyt and she’s an improving finisher as well.
Her defensive potential is something that excites him and her future college coaches.
“Katie’s length and size on the perimeter will be an asset to her at the next level,” McDaniel said. “She has the ability to be a lockdown defender and just needs to continue to fine tune her mindset and keep emotions in check. The toughest player to play against is one who shows no emotion and when you can be that person and possess the defensive skills you then can be a lockdown defender.
Tiffan’s LGB Select coach Lexie Gerson had connections to the Lynn program, which is coached by Julia Tucker. The Lynn staff had the opportunity to watch Tiffan play early in the summer AAU season. They continued to watch her games online as the summer went on.
In mid-September, Tiffan went down to visit the campus in Boca Raton on Florida’s southeastern coast. She had the chance to play with some of the Fighting Knights’ current players and it was apparent from both sides there was a mutual fit. She announced her commitment Sept. 16.
“I liked the basketball team obviously, but outside of that I liked the campus and it’s really close to the beach,” Tiffan said. “It’s in Florida, where my family is.”
Emily Tiffan, a 5-10 guard/wing, was a standout for the Rams, averaging 11.0 ppg as a senior when she was a first team all-area selection. McDaniel said the sisters similarly were used to lockdown one of the opponents’ top offensive players.
The older Tiffan had opportunities to play at the next level but ended up choosing to attend Florida Gulf Coast in Fort Myers, Fla., where she plays club basketball.
The FGCU campus is near their grandparents in Naples, Fla. on the opposite coast of Lynn but still only about a two-hour drive. TIffan will have one of her role models in the sport not far away throughout her college career.
“She definitely helped my game a lot growing up,” TIffan said. “Seeing her play on the high school team just allowed me to watch her a lot and I got to play with her her last year of high school. That was good and helpful.”
Lynn went 23-9 last season, which marked the most wins in program history. Tucker’s team advanced to the Sunshine State Conference Tournament Championship game and made the NCAA Division II Tournament for the first time since 2013 and third time in program history.
The Fighting Knights have five graduate students, two seniors, a junior and three freshmen on this year’s roster. Tiffan will come in with a large recruiting class looking to continue the program’s winning ways.
“I’m excited to get to know the girls and play with them and see how their offense works and see how I can fit in with their team,” Tiffan said.
Tiffan signed her National Letter of Intent alongside classmates Anna Azzara (Wright State) and Mac Pettinelli (St. Bonaventure). That trio and fellow seniors Aaliyah Solliday and Siena Miller are entering their third season together as the Rams’ core.
They still have unfinished business before they go their separate ways, looking to get back atop the Pioneer Athletic Conference — and more.
“I think we’ve all really grown as players and watching the older players, especially Lucy Olsen and Emily play together,” Tiffan said. “They really just taught us how to work together as a team and they set leadership goals. Now, we’re the leaders of the team and we have to set examples for the younger girls.”