This is the final in a series of six articles profiling the Mars Athletic Hall of Fame's Class of 2019.
ORLANDO, Fla. — All high school star athletes have an initial breakout game. For most, it comes in a regular season contest.
For Lily Grenci, it came with the WPIAL basketball playoffs as a backdrop.
She spent much of her freshman basketball season at Mars as one of Coach Dave Sylvester's top options off the bench. When the Planets met Keystone Oaks in a district playoff game at North Hills in 2006, Grenci took full advantage when her number was called.
She led Mars to victory with a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds.
“To play in a game that big, I was just excited to get the opportunity,” she said. “I remember the gym being very crowded and I was just trying to do the best I could.”
Grenci's best turned out to be the major source of fuel for the Planets over the next three seasons. She was named Butler Eagle Girls Basketball Player of the Year twice and finished her scholastic career with 1,718 points, still the most in program history.
The 2009 graduate will be inducted into the Mars Athletic Hall of Fame Sept. 6.
“I can't believe it's been 10 years,” exclaimed Grenci. “I'm excited about coming back to the community.”
Grenci's family was very sports-oriented and she began playing basketball in kindergarten.
“I always loved it, but it was when I was in sixth or seventh grade that I started putting all my time and effort into it,” she said. “I loved the competitiveness of basketball and the fact that if you work hard enough, you can see your progress.”
Grenci did not have a set position for Mars. She could play in the front court and backcourt, depending on the opponent. But her ability to score was always there. She won her first player of the year award as a junior and shared the honor with Butler's Olivia Bresnahan the following year when she tallied 24.2 points and 11.1 rebounds per game.
And Grenci did not let up at the other end of the court.
“I took pride in the defense I played,” she said. “It doesn't matter how many points you score, you still have to play defense.”
During Grenci's four years with Mars, the Planets tallied a record of 76-31, reaching the WPIAL playoffs each year and the state tournament three times.
Mars' program had been strong for years prior to Grenci's arrival and she did her part to keep it going.
“There was an expectation on us to make the playoffs and we didn't want to let people down,” she said. “I knew how much work I had put in. I'm a natural leader and was really comfortable in that role.”
Grenci admitted she did not realize she was still Mars' all-time leading scorer.
“Team success was very big for me and I was lucky,” said Grenci. “I was surrounded by great teammates, people who helped me.”
Grenci received a full scholarship to Siena College, a Division I school located in Loudonville, N.Y. She went on to score 1,074 points and pull down 624 rebounds for the Saints.
“Siena wasn't too big or too small,” she said. “I knew I'd have the chance to make an impact. I fell in love with the school and it was a great fit for me.”
Grenci spent two seasons as a graduate assistant at Le Moyne College in Syracuse. She recently graduated with her third degree, a Bachelor's in Nursing from Herzing University in Florida.
“I couldn't have done everything in basketball without the support of my family,” she said. “I'm still close with all of them.”