Destifanes: The engine that makes Shadyside go

Photo/PAUL KRAJNYAK SHADYSIDE SENIOR Syd Destifanes has been one of the leaders, on both ends of the floor, for the Lady Tigers. She and her teammates will take on Ottoville Friday.

SHADYSIDE — The size of someone’s heart, determination and resolve has never been measured on any roster.

If it was, Syd Destifanes would be near the top of every listing.

The Shadyside senior brings those qualities and so much more to the Lady Tigers basketball team, which will play in the Division IV state semifinals Friday afternoon against Ottoville in the Jerome Schottenstein Center at Ohio State University.

“I just love being part of this team and I am willing to do anything I can to help us be successful,” Destifanes said.

Destifanes stands literally 5-feet tall. To say she plays much bigger still wouldn’t be doing her justice.

The bundle of energy brings an attitude and relentless energy, especially on the defensive end, to the Lady Tigers that has come instrumental in their current six-game winning streak.

On top of that, Destifanes isn’t immune to scoring the ball. She’s an adept 3-point shooter, averages 7.2 points, three rebounds and three assists per game.

Again, it’s anything she can do to help the team.

“What I might lack in height, I have to replace with my heart and simply play as hard as I can to make up for that,” Destifanes said.

Destifanes has been making big plays on both ends throughout her career. She’s really taken it to another level in the Tigers’ tournament run. She supplied a true spark in the regional victories against Newark Catholic and Peebles. She made life difficult on those teams with her relentless ball pressure.

Like all prep players, reaching the state tournament was a goal for Destifanes ever since she began playing prep basketball. But, Destifanes admitted that it wasn’t until the district final victory against Fort Frye that she firmly started to believe that the goal had a legitimate chance of becoming reality.

“After that game against Fort Frye, it really started to sink in,” Destifanes said. “Getting past the district was a huge hump. I felt like even if we had played River or Fort Frye and got by them, we’d have a good chance.”

While none of the current roster has played on this stage, Destifanes is familiar with the scene that’s about to greet her and her teammates this weekend. Destifanes — then a fourth grader — was a manager on the Tigers’ 2011 team that reached the semifinals before bowing out.

“I remember how much fun it was and knowing that I wanted to play when I got older, (that state experience) really just made me want to get back there and actually play in it,” Destifanes said.

On that team, Destifanes’ cousins, Kelsey Holloway, was a key member as a senior, and B.A. Holloway was an assistant coach. Fast forwarding to this trip, Destifanes now plays for another cousin in head coach Serge Gentile.

“It means a lot to me to be able to share this with my family,” Destifanes said. “It really hasn’t even sunk in yet.”