Sterling moment for Kittanning senior at Cager Classic
Sterling wasn't settling for silver.
Kittanning senior basketball standout Sterling Henry made the most of his experience at the 17th annual Cager Classic all-star weekend, and he had the hardware to prove it at the end of the event.
Henry's arms were full of gold-colored trophies on Saturday night after he helped lead the East team to a 95-83 victory over the West at Highlands High School.
With a team-high 20 points, 13 in the second half, and 12 rebounds, Henry was an easy pick for East Most Valuable Player.
The East hit 11 3-pointers, including a pair by Henry, who averaged 18.9 points this season and scored 1,084 for his career.
“Coach (Mike Nagy of West Shamokin) wanted us to shoot the ball,” Henry said. “He said, if you get it, take it. We had a nice team with a lot of good shooters.”
On Friday night, Henry won the event's individual and co-ed team hot-shot contests at the Cager skills competition. He teamed with Valley's Kristea Smith, the MVP for the East in the girls' game, in the co-ed event.
“This whole weekend was a really fun time,” Henry said. “I got to play with some great players and the MVP is a true honor.”
Other Armstrong County players didn't go unnoticed. Anthony Rocco, the first boys player from West Shamokin to participate in the Cager, added 14 points and Ford City's Dave Lattanzio added 10 for the East.
Another 1,000-point scorer, Rocco hit four 3-pointers. He missed the skills contest because of a scholarship dinner at Mt. Aloysius, where he'll continue his baseball career.
“This was a great event; I didn't know what to expect because I had never played in (the Cager) before and I wasn't here Friday,” Rocco said. “I scored my 1,000th point on this court. It was an awesome time and we really played well together.”
Freeport's Brendan Lynch won the West MVP after scoring a game-high 22 points.
“This game was a blast,” said Lynch, a three-sport athlete who had a career season in basketball. “It was one of the most fun basketball weekends I have ever had. We figured it would be fast-paced and there'd be a lot of scoring.”
Henry said there was an Armstrong connection with himself, Rocco and Lattanzio. The trio had obvious chemistry, particularly in transition.
“We've all played together for years so we know each other so well,” Henry said.
Said Lattanzio: “This definitely wasn't the first time we played together.”
Kittanning has made its presence known at the Cager with scorers. Henry's former teammate, Nathan Stolitza, won MVP two years ago when the East won, 113-107.
Henry's effort helped the East take a 9-8 lead in the all-time series.
In the Cager girls' all-star game, West Shamokin forward Jill Glover survived a scare in helping the East to a 71-60 victory. A somewhat hectic day for the Edinboro volleyball recruit, she arrived a little late due to a volleyball match in Monroeville. Then, she tweaked her right knee with 3:36 left in the first half.
She returned in the second half after seeing an athletic trainer and applying an ice pack.
“I felt really nervous because I heard something pop,” said Glover, who fouled out with eight points. “My knee has done that before. I felt alright to come back.”
West Shamokin coach Judd McCullough, who led the East team, discussed whether to put Glover back into the game with Glover's family and the on-site trainer.
“And with Jill,” the coach said. “We talked about her resting. But she is such a competitor. She'd want to go back in if it was a 2-on-2 pick-up game.”
McCullough was pleased with how the Cager turned out — the coaches pulled an East sweep — in West Shamokin's all-star debut.
“I loved it,” McCullough said. “They do things here first-class. We were excited from the beginning. They have an army of people who put this on and they do a great job.”
Henry, Rocco and Glover all will play in the Roundball Classic April 20 at Geneva College.
Bill Beckner Jr. is the local sports editor of the Valley News Dispatch. Reach him at email@example.com.