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Tiffani Turpin has carved out a spot for herself with the Valley Regional girls’ basketball squad after moving to the area from West Haven just before the start of her current junior year. (Photo courtesy of Tiffani Turpin )
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A change of scenery can be difficult for anyone, especially if you’re the making that move right in the middle of your tenure at your hometown high school. One person who knows all about that challenge is Valley Regional junior Tiffani Turpin, who’s in her first season as a member of the Warriors’ girls’ basketball team this winter.
Tiffani moved from West Haven to Deep River prior to the beginning of the current school year, and she’s worked hard to become a contributing player on the squad. Since the midpoint of the season, Tiffani has started several games for Head Coach Geoff Konstan’s team, and he’s been impressed with her skill set.
However, it takes more than talent to fit in with a new team; it also takes some familiarity with the team’s plays and where each player fits on the court. Tiffani made sure that she played in Valley’s summer and fall leagues, so she could get a feel for some of the things she would see on the high-school level.
“It took a long time to adapt with the team. We were really good during the summer league. During the fall, I was trying to be more relaxed,” says Tiffani. “I never really played with most of the varsity girls, because a lot didn’t play in the summer and fall leagues...I’m used to it here now, though. I didn’t know what to expect. So I just came and played hard and that was it.”
Tiffani credits the Warriors’ senior captains—Heidi Clark, Paige Atkinson, and Carly Thompson—for helping her settle in with her new team. Now, she is building chemistry with teammates who she also calls her friends.
“Actually, me and the team are pretty close. We’re really close,” says Tiffani. “The captains—Paige, Carly, and Heidi—really helped me feel more comfortable. [We’ve] become really good friends.”
Tiffani’s biggest strength on the court is her ability to get to the basket, and she often uses the Eurostep to slip past her defender. Tiffani is a guard who presses the issue by working her way into the paint to take the shot, get fouled, or dish to an open teammate on the perimeter.
“My favorite move is the Eurostep; it’s made a huge difference,” Tiffani says. “I try to go through everybody. If I don’t get there, I will pass it out to one of the wings for a shot, or I’ll try to draw the foul when I go up. I’ll try to lean into somebody and get the foul call.”
On defense, Tiffani relies on her speed to close out on her opponent and jump the passing lanes. Lately, she’s also been working on getting blocks from behind a shooter to stop a potential score.
“I’m fast enough to help on defense and get to where the ball is going before it gets there,” she says. “My hands are pretty good. I’ve been working on a new technique I learned to block people from behind, so I let them slip in front of me.”
Coach Konstan saw that Tiffani had talent while she was playing in Valley’s summer and fall leagues, but he also knows that a team’s success often hinges on the players’ ability to jell within their coach’s system. Konstan was happy to see how hard Tiffani worked to acclimate herself to the Warriors, and now she’s making an impact as one of their starters.
“I think she’s done a great job. She’s a talented player. It’s rough transferring your sophomore year. West Haven’s a huge school, and moving to our tri-town area, it’s been a massive adjustment...I saw in summer league that she had talent. It took some time for her to learn our system, but what I love about her was that she showed up every day at practice with a great attitude,” says Konstan. “At practice, she asked to use her phone to film plays, so she could learn them at home. She’s serious about it. She’s never missed a practice. She’s never even late to practice. She’s a really nice kid, and she’s become fast friends with everyone else on the team. That goes a long way, too.”
Outside of playing basketball at Valley, Tiffani also meets a wide variety of athletes by competing in the AAU ranks. Tiffani says there is an entirely different feel to an AAU game compared to high school and, although she prefers the faster pace of AAU, Tiffany enjoys playing high-school ball, too.
“It’s a lot faster speed. We do a lot of running and fast-break drills,” says Tiffani. “You meet a lot of new people and coaches and people are fun, but I like high school a lot this year, too. Most of it is just driving to the basket the whole time.”
Tiffani gives a lot of credit to her father, Tom Turpin, for having a big impact on her as basketball player. She says he’s the one who taught her how to execute her signature move to the basket, and Tiffani likes to pay tribute to her father by constantly playing as hard as she can.
“He coaches me and my little sister Alison off the court whenever he can. He tells me defense creates offense. He bases his techniques off of my defense. He’ll teach me to steal a pass and stuff like that. He’s teaching me to go behind my back. He taught me the Eurostep,” says Tiffani. “My father is a single father, and he works a lot and it’s really hard for him to bring us to practice all the time and pay for it, so I give a lot of credit to him. I try to do as hard as I can do for my father.”
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