Bragging rights at stake as relatives meet in Highlands-Valley matchup

| Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, 10:24 p.m.

Highlands basketball player Kayla Beale recently exchanged Christmas gifts with her aunt, Mindy (Beale) White, the first-year girls coach at Valley.

“She got me a curling iron,” Kayla said. “And I made her a picture of a reindeer for her baby son.”

The basketball doesn't bounce far from the tree, but don't expect the relatives to be in such a giving mood — at least for 32 minutes — when they go against each other Monday in New Kensington.

Highlands will visit Valley, and the game will mark the first time Beale and White face off on separate teams in section play.

White used to be an assistant at Highlands, but will now be trying to draw up defenses to stop her former players.

“We know it's going to be a little awkward,” said Beale, a sophomore guard. “I think we're trying to think of it as any other game. It's almost like if you play a friend on another team; it's a little different with a coach. But I don't think it'll be too much different.”

Valley and Highlands met in the consolation game of the West Shamokin Tournament with Highlands winning 45-43.

Now, Beale is ready for the rematch. The relatives want nothing more than for the other to succeed on the basketball court, but genealogy won't stand in the way of victory.

Mike McNabb knows the feeling. Twice last season, the junior guard from Valley went head-to-head with his uncle and basketball mentor, Knoch coach Ron McNabb.

Knoch plays Valley on Jan. 10 in Jefferson Township.

“You want to get a win; it's kind of like a family rivalry,” Mike said. “We're the only people from our family that go against each other like this.”

The coach has the upper hand so far, making Valley — his alma mater — say uncle twice last season.

But Mike is aiming to reverse course so he can bring some fun trash talk to the next family function.

“He's an intense coach,” Mike said of his uncle. “When he coached at Burrell, I was the water boy and he got pretty crazy. But he's really gotten more mellow. That's where I get my (intensity). I always try to bring my teammates up and stay on them.”

The younger McNabb wants to get into coaching and doesn't have to look far for a role model.

“I'd like to coach with my uncle actually,” Mike said. “He has taught me everything I know about basketball.”

And yet another opportunity to instill family bragging rights exists within an upcoming local father-daughter matchup.

When he was leading the Elderton girls team two years ago, Jim Callipare coached against his daughter, Ashton, when she played on the Ford City junior varsity.

Callipare has since taken over at Apollo-Ridge and when his new team plays host to Ford City on Jan. 13, he will go against her at the varsity level.

Ashton is a junior reserve forward for Ford City.

“Over the (holiday) break, we were both home a lot and we were throwing jabs back and forth,” the coach said.

“She's loyal to her team, which I'd expect. We like to have fun with it and pick on each other.”

Ford City's JV team picked up the win two years ago, so Jim has some catching up to do.

“I told (Ashton) I am going to put my toughest girl on her; if my mother was wearing the wrong color jersey I'd go at her too,” he said with a laugh. “I'm riding the big donut.”

While most of the relatives try to keep the mood light and the ribbing to a minimum, they know there will be a little more to play for personally once the games arrive.

And some extra swagger to the winner afterward.

“Who knows?” Beale said. “Maybe the next day we'll say, ‘How about that game?' ”

And start thinking about the second meeting later in the season.

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