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Cager Classic will be last game for many local players

| Monday, March 17, 2014, 10:18 p.m.
Cory Stivason | For the Leader Times
West Shamokin's Ryan Dean attempts to take a charge from Ford City's Jesse Sequeira on Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, at West Shamokin.

Some of the area's top basketball seniors will take the court one last time this weekend.

The 18th annual Cager Classic takes place Friday and Saturday at Highlands High School. Boys and girls representing six Armstrong County schools will be taking part in the all-star weekend.

The 11 local participants in this year's Cager Classic are Alek Schaffer and Emily Knepshield of Kittanning; Jesse Sequeira and Ally Cujas of Ford City; Zane Clowser, Kelly Clowser and Tristan Cribbs of West Shamokin; Dom Schrecengost and Ashley Emminger of Apollo-Ridge; Ben Ritchie of Leechburg; and Michaela Bowser of Freeport.

Some players, such as Fox Chapel senior and Duke recruit Erin Mathias, have much ahead of them in their basketball careers.

But for others, including many of the local participants, the Cager Classic will end their organized playing days.

“It's crazy to think it's finally the end of basketball and high school,” Sequeira said. “I'm really excited for it. I've been to see the last two, and I'm excited to play in it finally.”

“I'm hoping to play (in college), but I plan to play all out this weekend and play like it is my last game. I'm going to enjoy it while I can,” Cribbs said.

One novelty of Saturday night's all-star games is the pairing of rivals on the same team. The East teams will bring together players from Kittanning, Ford City, Apollo-Ridge and Leechburg, among others, while the West teams get the players from West Shamokin and Freeport.

Sequeira mentioned Schaffer as one of the players he's played against and looks forward to teaming up with. Others didn't have specific players in mind but are looking forward to meeting their new teammates.

“I'm excited to have the chance to play with this group of girls,” Knepshield said. “I read the paper a lot when I'm playing and see their names, so it will be cool to see what they're all capable of.”

Being an all-star game, the style of play is expected to be a little less structured than a typical high school game, but many of the players view that as a positive.

“I've gone to it the last few years and always thought it would be cool to play in it. I'm ready to see how all these other kids play,” Schaffer said. “Everyone wants to win, but we're still going to have fun.”

“I'm going to try to play my game,” Sequeira said. “There's definitely going to be a lot of good players out there, so there will probably be more isolation stuff. I like it, because I'm definitely more of a driver than a shooter.”

Win or lose, all the players understand the most important thing about the weekend is to have fun with old friends and new teammates.

“It's going to be competitive, but I think it will turn out to be a pretty fun game, and I'm really happy that (Clowser) and I get the opportunity to play together again,” Cribbs said.

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