Triton junior Debra Beecher has made an instant difference for the Mustangs since her first season at the high-school level, thanks to her height. The 5-foot-11 center is a threat on both ends of the floor.
In just her third career high-school game two years ago, the then-freshman scored a season-high 16 points against Pennsville, while also logging a season-high six blocks.
Her efforts, unfortunately, were not enough to prevent the team from going 1-23 in her first season, but Beecher has been a crucial component of the program’s revival from the basement of the Tri-County Conference in the two seasons since, though not without growing pains and tough lessons.
Just ask Beecher herself.
“It was very difficult at first, to be honest,” Beecher said. “I came in thinking it would be a little bit like middle school, and it was a brutal beginning for me. I was 13 years old playing with 18-year-olds. It felt like a lot at times, and I didn’t really expect what it was like.
“I definitely underestimated it a little at first.”
Flash forward to what are now the final days of her junior season and Beecher continues to show more promise with each passing game for the Mustangs.
After a freshman year in which she scored 82 points and grabbed 92 rebounds while collecting 48 blocks, Beecher produced a stat line last season of 99/102/74 despite a COVID-shortened schedule. She is once again surpassing all those marks this year.
Most noticeably, the junior has collected more than 110 blocks so far this season, averaging more than five per game. That total is more than enough for the Tri-County Conference – by a landslide. The only two girls in the state with more blocks than Beecher are Faith Fedd-Robinson of Newark Central and Joi Johnson of Ewing.
In short, Beecher has South Jersey on lockdown.
Frank Marchiano, in the midst of his fifth year as head coach of the Triton program, has watched Beecher’s game develop over the past three years and says her blocks on the defensive side of the court have become routine.
“She’s a lot more confident of a player than she first was,” Marciano said. “She baits people into shooting; she wants them to shoot because she’s confident in getting that block or altering it at the very least.”
Beecher’s sheer presence under the basket alone, and her talent for blocks, give the Mustangs an advantage most teams can only wish for and helps limit the threat of opposing guards and forwards confidently driving the lane, helping keep the Mustangs in games longer.
But it’s not just Beecher’s defense and blocking that have improved and made a difference for Triton. Her offensive game has also matured over the past three years.
“This year, I feel like my offensive game has really picked up as well,” she said.
Beecher’s coach has seen the improvement as well, given that his player has averaged 9.2 points per game so far this season. Moving forward, Marciano foresees even more offensive production from Beecher next season during her senior year.
“I think the sky’s the limit for her to be honest … “ Marciano said. “She’s become a very well- rounded player for us, and if she continues to make the big strides this offseason going into next year that she’s made in each of the previous off-seasons now, she’s poised to have a monster year for us next year.
“She’s the centerpiece: There’s a nice core here and she’s at the center of it.”