Cager Classic Notebook: Deer Lakes coach not overcomplicating playbook

| Thursday, March 21, 2013, 10:51 p.m.

Coaches don't have to put much effort into Cager Classic games, but some have been intense over the years.

One year, former Highlands and Valley boys coach Tom Myers spent nearly 50 minutes discussing strategy during the teams' one customary practice.

Others have insisted on introducing plays.

Not Deer Lakes coach Jon McKay. Don't expect him to wear out the dry-erase markers.

“We'll have maybe two plays; a couple quick-hitters, but that's about it,” said McKay, who will lead the West boys Saturday night at Highlands. “It's more about scoring a lot of points and having fun. We're going to chuck it every seven seconds and try to keep everybody healthy.”

McKay is an avid New York Yankees fan. His two dogs and two cats are named after Yankees players. The dogs are Jeter and Rivera, the cats C.C. and Cano.

He'll have to juggle a star-studded lineup Saturday.

“I feel like (Yankees manager) Joe Girardi,” McKay said. “To coach 12 talented kids like these ones is pretty special.”

Asked if he'll run any Deer Lakes plays, McKay said: “Doubt it; we actually have some size in this game. There are guys who can reach the top shelf.”

Yaksich better

Fox Chapel forward Alexa Yaksich was concerned she might miss the Cager after she was hospitalized last week.

But after a one-night stay, she was released and is ready to play.

“I had a severe allergic reaction with hives that covered my body,” she said. “They kept me to do (intravenous therapy) and some tests. They don't know what caused it.”

Hot-shot teams

Friday night will be the Cager's annual skills competition at Highlands.

Here are the teams for the coed hot-shot contest, where players shoot from numbered circles on the court with differing point values.

West — Maddy Glamp, Springdale/Matt Getsy, Mars; Sara Pilarski, Hampton/Tim Jaczesko, Deer Lakes; Sam Logan, Knoch/Anthonee Jones, Highlands; Heather Schrecengost, St. Joseph/Charlie Guy, Highlands; Jessica Aulicino, Freeport/John Arcuri, St. Joseph; Nichole Kearns, Deer Lakes/Nate Huwar, Fox Chapel; Nikki Misejka, Highlands/Brendan Lynch, Freeport; Brianna Intrieri, Hampton/Josh Goetz, Mars; Becca Babincak, Deer Lakes/Richard Ford, Hampton; Teresa Dallatore, Mars; J.J. Kowalkowski, Deer Lakes; Natalie Merola, Cheswick Christian/Marc Vaughn, Knoch; Danielle Kearns, Deer Lakes/Tyler Knupp, Cheswick Christian.

East — Sarah Bonelli, Apollo-Ridge/Dave Lattanzio, Ford City; Taylor Patterson, Kittanning/Nick Stone, Kiski Area; Ashley Bruni, Riverview/Peter Spagnolo, Burrell; Maddie Antone, Kiski Area/Devin Whitman, Valley; Alexa Yaksich, Fox Chapel/Vince Mead, Kittanning; Kristea Smith, Valley/Sterling Henry, Kittanning; Krista Klukan, Ford City/Anthony Rocco, West Shamokin; Beth Mort, Leechburg/Griffin Myers, Plum; Tara Stolarski, Kiski Area/Sam Gonsowski, Riverview; Jill Glover, West Shamokin/Chris Swank, Leechburg; Rachel Ranii, Fox Chapel/Adam Robison, Kiski Area; Angelina Borriello, Plum/Josh Reynolds, Apollo-Ridge.

There also are boys and girls 3-point contests and individual hot-shot competitions. The event starts at 7 p.m.

Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at

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