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For Lockport High basketball player, courting success is a family tradition

Is there pressure living up to the Maroney family name on a basketball court?

"You would think so because my whole family played, and everybody was a decent player, but there's really no pressure from the family," said 17-year-old senior Jonathan Maroney, captain of the Lockport High School boys basketball team.

But, Maroney said, "I definitely put pressure on myself because I know what I have to live up to. I know what my family has done in the past. I just want to make sure I keep up."

Like his uncles and half brothers, who all played for the Lions, Jonathan has been a key to the program's success.

Jonathan's uncles, Lawrence and Tony, had fine scholastic careers and had even more success at the collegiate level.

Lawrence, a 1980 Lockport graduate and member of the Nazareth College Athletic Hall of Fame, averaged 17.8 points on 58.3 percent shooting for the Rochester college. He earned Division III All-American status in 1984 after helping the Golden Flyers win the NCAA East Regional title.

During his scholastic playing days, the 6-foot-2 Lawrence once shattered a backboard during a dunk in a full-court scrimmage at Williamsville North, according to Lockport's Wayne Ginty -- a longtime program assistant who became head coach three years ago. The teams had to finish the scrimmage using the side baskets.

Seven-foot-one Tony graduated from Lockport in 1990 and is perhaps the most famous Maroney. He went on to play professionally abroad after a fine Division I career at the University of Hawaii, where he averaged 13.6 points on 61.7 percent shooting and 9.7 rebounds per game. He earned Junior College All-American status before arriving at Hawaii.

The 6-0 Jonathan Maroney doesn't play above the rim like his uncles, but Lockport wouldn't have ended its Niagara Frontier League championship drought without his presence.

>Averages 15 points

Jonathan -- an athletic, slashing-type player with strong post moves -- carries averages of 15 points, five rebounds and four steals per game into the Section VI Tournament, which begins later this week for the Lions.

Maroney had the usual game last Tuesday night in helping Lockport clinch its first NFL title since 1998. He tallied 13 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals during Lockport's hard fought 56-53 win at Kenmore East. He made three steals in the fourth quarter that led to baskets and also made two free throws in the frame that proved to be huge.

"That's a career [game] for a lot of guys, but that's the way he performs every game," Ginty said. "He could score a lot more, but he involves his teammates. I would call [his presence] pivotal [to our success]. Not only his talent, but he has a lot of heart and he's turned into a leader by example."

Jonathan's half brothers, Marcus and Lance, both averaged 15 points per game and were solid defenders during their scholastic playing days, which ended in 2002. They, too, were team captains.

"We as coaches always look for the name because we know a Maroney is usually a quality athlete," said Ginty, who helped coach all the Maroneys during their time at Lockport. "They're real big parts of our program, a part of our program history and tradition."

Jonathan has played organized ball since fifth grade, his interest in the sport fueled by watching Tony dunk with regularity in games. Jonathan has always wanted to dunk, but with the exception of finishing off an alley-oop during warmups before a summer league game last year, he hasn't with regularity since outgrowing his old Fisher-Price basketball hoop years ago.

"I haven't even tried [it in a game] just because it's not something I've been working on," he said. "I'm not going to try it until I'm confident I'm going to make it."

He's more than happy twisting his way through the lane, using his quickness to beat defenders off the dribble and doing whatever is necessary to help Lockport win.

Maroney, who carries a B-plus average, was selected Lockport's Male Athlete of the Year. He also will be the school's nominee for the Niagara Police Athletic League's Male Prep Athlete of the Year. Eleven boys and 11 girls from each of Niagara County's high schools will be honored Sunday during the annual PAL Awards Dinner at the Como Restaurant in Niagara Falls. The PAL selects a Male and a Female Prep Athlete of the Year from the list of nominees.

>Football is a factor

Maroney will have a decision to make following the season.

Although Division III schools St. John Fisher, Cortland and Farmingdale (Long Island) are interested in his basketball skills, other Division III schools are interested in his football ability. Maroney rushed for more than 700 yards and seven scores and also passed for three TDs as the Lions' quarterback during the 2005 football season. The schools interested are St. John Fisher, Buffalo State and Alfred.

"I still haven't really decided [which sport to pursue]," he said. "Personally, I think I'm better at football just because it comes more natural to me. But I've gotten so much better at basketball now, it's hard to say."

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