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Hard Knocks on the Hardwood Toughen up Panther Alumna

Former Collingswood star Lauren Gregg eventually found the collegiate basketball success she'd sought as a high school standout, but the way she achieved it wasn't the way she'd planned.

Every young athlete feeds off the belief that someday his or her ability will be enough to sustain the dream of a professional career.

In the NCAA, however, basketball standout Lauren Gregg learned that some dreams feed themselves—and sometimes you wake up hungry.

At Collingswood High School, Gregg established multiple milestones. She is one of only eight Panthers to enjoy a 1,000-point career; her 1,228 points rank fifth in school history. In her senior year, Gregg tallied 477 of her 1,228 points for the third-best single-season total in the athletic history of the school.

That year (2007-08), the team delivered head coach Nancy O'Neill the best season in her 20-year tenure: a 25-5 record capped by a Colonial Conference championship and a South Jersey Group II title—only the second in school history (and O'Neill's first). Gregg, the captain, led the way with 17 points in the deciding game.

"My success at Collingswood means a lot to me," Gregg said. "It’s a small town.  I got to experience winning a championship there, and that was the best feeling in the world. When I go home and see people I haven’t seen in a while, they ask me about basketball, talk about our team, and that always feels good."

When nearby Rider University offered Gregg a scholarship, she expected her high school success would springboard her to stardom at the collegiate level. But after a rough two seasons in which she saw limited playing time, Gregg felt her opportunities slipping away.

"It wasn’t the experience I wanted," she said. "I wasn’t getting what I wanted basketball-wise; plus, they didn’t have the major I wanted."

In August 2010, Gregg made a late switch, transferring to Rowan University mere weeks before the start of her junior year. In the process, she rediscovered her game.

That season, Gregg led the Profs in scoring and rebounding, averaging 15.1 points and 7.3 boards per game. Her .444 three-point shooting percentage was tops in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC), where she also held the fifth-highest scoring average and was named to the All-Conference Second Team.

"On the court she brought scoring right away, which was something we needed," said teammate Lauren Creel. "We were looking for someone to fill that four position and she did that; plus, she had guard tendencies that caused a lot of mismatches."

Gregg's senior season brought more of the same success. She led the team in scoring for a second consecutive year, averaging 14.3 points per game, and was fourth in the NJAC with 8.4 rebounds per game. She also was named to the NJAC All-Conference Second Team.

"To be honest, I didn’t have the intentions to come in and lead the team in any category," Gregg said. "I was just so happy to play. My teammates and coaches made [the game] fun again for me, and I’m just really grateful for that.

"It was more of the experience that made me happiest, not the stats,” she said.

With her collegiate career now in the books, Gregg plans to attend graduate school in the area in pursuit of a physical therapy career. And if these dreams are somehow deferred along the way, don't count the former Panther out: Gregg has learned that the resolve of a champion doesn't diminish even when diverted.

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