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Local basketball players set to finish careers at all-star games

| Friday, March 23, 2012

Jon Shanty once competed in a 3-point contest at a youth camp where he grabbed basketballs off the rack and shot against a running clock.

"It was like four years ago," said Shanty, a Ford City senior. "There were only like six of us. But it was a good time."

Shanty will get to launch 3s on a larger stage tonight in the boys' 3-point title at the Cager Classic skills competition set for 7 p.m. at Highlands.

The event also features individual and co-ed "hot shot" contests. Players shoot from differing point-valued circles. The competition is a prelude to the Cager all-star games Saturday night.

The girls play at 6 p.m., the boys at 8.

Shanty will suit up for the East team.

"I am looking forward to playing again," Shanty said. "I have missed playing a lot. It's been like a month and a half since I've played in a game. I mean, I play all the time at the YMCA, but I want to get out there."

Shanty's brother, Matt, played in the 2009 Cager Classic. He scored four points in the East's 117-94 victory. The 117 points remains a Cager record for single-team scoring.

"The main thing you want to do is have fun. It's your last game," Jon Shanty said. "It'd be nice to go out and get 30 points or get the MVP or something. I am not afraid to shoot."

Still, being crowned 3-point champ would sit well with Shanty. He broke Ford City's single-season record for 3s in a season while averaging 20.5 points per game.

"He better win that thing," said Ford City coach Greg Hutcherson with a laugh. "At our banquet Sunday night, I told everyone he was in that (contest) against Micah Mason, so he better bring his game and win. Jon is so competitive. Even though (the 3-point contest) is not that serious, Jon is ready and wants to win."

Shanty is one of 10 local players taking part in the Cager all-star weekend, where Ford City and Kittanning players are on the same teams.

Ford City's Heather Davis will play for the East in the girls game. At one point last year, her return to sports was questionable after she fractured her leg during volleyball season.

"I broke my leg in the fall during the second volleyball practice," she said. "I was out for five weeks and came back for the last couple matches.

"This year, once I got back to playing, I couldn't even feel that I had an injury. It didn't hurt anymore. It hasn't given me any problems."

Davis averaged 15 points per game this season.

A former four-sport athlete, Davis plans to continue her basketball career at Waynesburg.

She played golf, volleyball, basketball and track for three years. Last year, she limited her schedule to basketball and volleyball.

The Cager, to Davis, is one last chance to shine.

"You get to play with different people that you played against during the season," Davis said. "It's a whole different experience. It should be a lot of fun. It's an honor to play one more time."

Davis, too, is looking forward to tonight's skills competition.

"Everybody that made it is a good shooter," Davis said. "It will be interesting to see who wins."

Kittanning's Ty Lambert will play for the East, too. The son of Steelers Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Lambert, he will be the third member of his family to play in the Cager, joining sisters Liz and Lauren.

With the WPIAL's top two scorers playing -- Highlands' Micah Mason (West) and Plum's Nolan Cressler (East) -- fans should expect a high-scoring boys game. Although, last year's offensive explosion raised the bar.

The East won, 113-107, marking the first time in the event teams combined to score more than 100 points.

Ten times in event history the winning boys team has scored 100 or more.

Also last year, Kittanning grad Nathan Stolitza broke the individual boys' scoring mark with 34 points.

Fox Chapel grad Meaghan Cowher owns the girls mark with 29 points in 2004.

Additional Information:

Cager Classic all-star games

• Saturday, Highlands High School.

• Girls game, 6 p.m.; Boys 8 p.m.

• Skills competition: 7 p.m. today.

• Tickets: $6 adults; $4 students. Advance tickets available at B&J Sports in Natrona Heights by calling 724-226-2762.

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