Versatile Hinnant picks Millersville

Spring-Ford senior Courtney Hinnant, seated center, flanked by her parents Jessica and Mike and Spring-Ford athletic director and assistant basketball coach Mickey McDaniel recently signed a letter of intent to attend Millersville University. (Photo by Tom Kelly III)

ROYERSFORD - Courtney Hinnant's unselfish demeanor and underrated skill set was an integral part of Spring-Ford's run to the PIAA Class AAAA girls basketball championship.

Next year, Hinnant is hoping those traits can help her make an impact at the next level.

Hinnant, a 5-foot-10 forward, recently signed a national letter of intent to accept a partial scholarship to attend Millersville University and play basketball for NCAA Division II Marauders.

The daughter of Mike - a former Pittsburgh Steelers tight end - and Jessica Hinnant, Courtney also strongly considered fellow Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Eastern Division squad Kutztown before deciding on Millersville.

'Their program is a lot like ours, and I thought I would fit in really well,' Hinnant said. 'They play a lot like us: very fast with an emphasis on defense. I really liked the coaches; they were easy to get along with.'

Under 23rd-year coach Mary Fleig, the Marauders posted a 16-6 PSAC East record and 21-8 overall mark last season, reaching the conference semifinals.

Fleig is 430-214 during her tenure at Millersville, and has the sixth-most wins among active Division II coaches.

Under Fleig's watch, the Marauders have earned NCAA Division II Tournament berths in nine of the last 16 seasons, including four straight years from 2007-11.

Hinnant said she will go in undeclared as to a major but is leaning towards business management.

'I visited the campus and took a tour last summer,' she said. 'Then I took another visit earlier this year and got to meet some of the girls and go to one of their games. They were all really nice and welcoming, and that sold me.'

Though Hinnant likely would have started for any other team in the state, she wound up being the first player off the bench in the rotation of Rams coach Jeff Rinehimer. She averaged 6.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game in helping the Rams (32-2) successfully defend their Pioneer Athletic Conference and District 1-AAAA titles.

'Courtney was a big key because of her versatility,' said Rinehimer, who recently stepped down after 19 seasons at the helm of the Rams. 'She's strong inside, and she's a very good defender. She runs the floor, she rebounds and she's got a nice little jump shot. I think her best basketball is yet to come and the sky's the limit for her.'

'I think me coming off the bench was what our team needed, and it worked out really well,' Hinnant said. 'If the game started to do down at all, I could come back in and pick it right back up.'

Hinnant did that on numerous occasions.

There was the season-high 16-point effort in a big non-league win over eventual Berks County champion Wilson. The 10-point performance in a 59-41 PIAA first-round win over Hershey. The nine-point, eight-rebound stint in a 67-45 state quarterfinal victory over Dover.

The game-changing defensive work Hinnant put in on Cardinal O'Hara star Shanice Johnson that helped the Rams come away with a 44-40 PIAA semifinal win. And, finally, the game-high eight rebounds she pulled down in a 60-45 victory over Cumberland Valley for the state championship.

'All the time we all put in over the offseason led to that,' said Hinnant. 'I'm just really grateful I got to experience it with this group of girls.'

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