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Knights girls’ armor shining with school records in reach

Greenon senior guard Lianne Masquelier’s 4.5 steals and 7.8 assists rank second in the CBC.

Few basketball players throw on a pair of shoes faster than Lianne Masquelier.

The 5-foot-8 senior guard can have her high tops laced up and squeaking in 45 seconds flat because no one – not even a star player – is late to a Greenon High School girls basketball practice.

The consequences can be downright mortifying.

“I start the clock and we start running if anybody’s late,” Knights coach Gary Falkenbach said. “If you’re the one who’s late, you’re going to stand in the middle of the floor and watch everyone else run because of you.”

“No one’s ever late – ever,” Masquelier said, laughing.

In his seventh season, Falkenbach has restored discipline, energy and pride to a long-suffering program, and the Knights’ armor has taken on an unmistakable shine.

Masquelier and company, 15-9 and 17-7 over the past two seasons, are coming off back-to-back Central Buckeye Conference Mad River Division titles – Greenon’s first since 1984.

“I definitely think we could break some (school records) – we have the potential to if we all come together and work as one,” said Masquelier, a Division-I college cross country and track recruit whose 4.5 steals and 7.8 assists rank second in the CBC.

“Coming out with five strong players has more of an impact than (relying) on one great player. If we play as one, do our best and maintain that team concept, I think we can do it.”

Not since a four-year, 75-13 run from 1979-1982 under former coach Mike Flora has a Greenon girls basketball team won so many games.

Flora’s squads went 16-5, 21-2, 22-1 and 16-5 during that span, producing three CBC titles and a pair of “AAA” district championships.

Masquelier, who shoots 44 percent from the floor and averages 10 points a game, hopes to erase at least one of that group’s memorable achievements – the 32-year-old school for wins (22).

“I think we can definitely do it this year,” she said. “We have a lot of talent on this team. We’re very athletic. We can really get out and run. We’re not a one-person show. You never know on any given night who you’ll have to guard.”

A former assistant coach under Tony Ricciuto when Jason Collier led Catholic Central to a D-IV state title in 1996, Falkenbach also coached the Irish girls for six seasons before landing at Greenon.

“(Assistant coach) Lonnie (Robinson) and I have been able to get a neat little feeder program going here,” Falkenbach said. “We got our third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders into a metro league. Our kids got excited about playing and being around the older girls in our program.”

A four-time regional qualifier and three-time state-qualifier in cross country, Masquelier is being recruited by D-I Purdue, Cincinnati and Butler. She finished 39th at last fall’s D-II state meet (19:09), shaving 21 seconds off her previous-best finish.

“I call her the Engergizer bunny in the Mini Cooper,” Falkenbach said. “She wants everyone to succeed.”

Asked whether hitting a three or threading a pass gets her more pumped, Masquelier offered a glimpse into her unselfish nature.

“Ooh, that’s a tough one. Both are really fun,” she said. “I love watching people’s expressions when you make a big play. You can make their game come alive if you feed them a great pass and help them finish. You can really get them motivated. That’s really fun.”

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