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A-K Valley notebook: Cager Classic skills contests set for Friday

| Thursday, March 17, 2016, 9:30 p.m.
Dan Speicher | For The Tribune-Review
Deer Lakes Jess Philistine (13), moves in for a shot under the net, as Mars Bri Buzzard (2), comes in for a block, during the game at Deer Lakes High School, on Monday, Jan. 4, 2016
Dan Speicher | For The Tribune-Review
Deer Lakes Mackenzie Kacsur (20), dribbles the ball up court, during the game against Mars, at Deer Lakes High School, on Monday, Jan. 4, 2016

The Cager Classic gets its unofficial start 7 p.m. Friday night with the annual skills competition at Highlands.

As usual, there will be three events in which players will compete: the individual 3-point contest, individual “hot shot” contest and co-ed “hot shot” contest.

The 3-point contest uses the traditional around-the horn format with five ball racks.

In the hot shot contest, players shoot from numbered circles on the floor, 1 through 8, which corresponds to each spot's point value. The co-ed hot shot includes pairs drawn up Thursday night, when the teams practiced. The co-ed uses an alternate-shot format.

Lights out

The 20th Cager Classic begins Saturday night with the girls game. Doors close, and the lights go out for spotlight player introductions around 5:45 p.m.

The boys game is scheduled for 8 but usually starts closer to 8:30 after the girls' medal ceremony and boys' intros.

Deer Lakes duo

Is there a more unheralded basketball duo in the A-K Valley than Deer Lakes' Mackenzie Kacsur and Jess Philistine?

The pair, set to play for the West this weekend in the Cager Classic, has provided consistent offense for the Lancers for three years.

They made the WPIAL playoffs twice, including this season as the Lancers went 15-9 and won a preliminary-round game. Both averaged about 14 points this season, and both were three-year starters.

“Kenz and I have been playing together for so long, and it really hasn't hit me yet that we won't be playing on the same team any more,” Philistine said. “I'm extremely excited and thankful that I have this opportunity to play one last time with her on the same team.”

Kacsur and Philistine, who combined for 1,176 career points (Philistine had 622), might play in college. Kacsur committed to Allegheny, and Philistine said she might try to walk on at Gannon.


History leans toward Cager MVPs coming from Fox Chapel. In the 19 years of the event, Fox Chapel has produced 13 MVPs — seven girls and six boys. Plum is next with a total of seven.

Did you know?

There only has been one overtime game in the history of the Cager Classic. In 2006, the East girls edged the West, 79-72.

Daughters of former Steelers won MVP awards: Lauren Lambert for the East and Lauren Cowher for the West.

On the tube

The TV replay of the Cager Classic all-star games will be aired 7 p.m. Tuesday on Comcast Channel 190.


“I have seen a lot of 3-point contests, but I have never participated in one. This will be a totally new thing for me. Hopefully I win.” — Plum senior guard James Edwards on the Cager 3-point shootout.

Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor for the Valley News Dispatch edition of the Tribune-Review. Reach him at

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