Valley's Smith earns MVP in Cager Classic girls game
Valley High School's Kristea Smith had a difficult basketball season that was punctuated by postponements because of a lack of players, making it tough to get into the rhythm of a season.
But Smith made the most of an opportunity to show a big crowd what she can do.
The Vikings senior was named Most Valuable Player for the East team that defeated the West, 71-60, in the 17th annual Cager Classic girls game at Highlands High School. Smith had 12 points, six rebounds, seven steals, one blocked shot and three assists.
“At first I was nervous out there,” Smith said. “But a lot of times we only had five or six people for our games, so I couldn't do what I was able to do until tonight.”
Saturday's game featured fierce competition with girls diving for loose balls and contesting even routine possessions.
“We were like a team out there,” Smith said. “Just like the skills competition (Friday), we decided to work as a team.”
Smith hopes to attend college for photography in the fall.
West Shamokin's Jill Glover had a previous knee injury tweaked in the first half, and Deer Lakes guard Nichole Kearns sustained an elbow injury in the second half and didn't return.
Saturday was also a big day for Hampton center Sara Pilarski.
Not only was she named West MVP but the 6-foot-1 senior also decided to accept an offer from Greensburg's Seton Hill University.
“I committed on my way here today,” Pilarski said. “Their coaching staff is just phenomenal. The campus is just beautiful, and I just knew that's where I am meant to be for the next four years.”
Pilarski had 12 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots.
“It's really exciting just to participate in an all-star game,” Pilarski said. “It's a great group of girls, and I tried to contribute what I could.”
Pilarski plans to major in English and pre-law.
Coaching the victorious East squad was West Shamokin's Judd McCullough, who just completed his first season guiding the Wolves.
“It was really fun,” McCullough said when asked about coaching in an all-star game. “It was tantalizing to see all that talent out there. They do such a great job here. It wasn't just a game; it was a whole experience.”
McCullough is a 1995 graduate of the former Shannock Valley High School. This was West Shamokin's first year of Cager Classic involvement.
“It was a great getting the younger people of our community down to root for their classmates, and having our cheerleaders down here will energize our area into being a participant here year after year.”
Maddie Antone of Kiski Area had 13 points for the East, while Riverview's Ashley Bruni chipped in with 11.
Becca Babincak of Deer Lakes tallied 11 for the West.