Classic a 'great opportunity' for Eagles' Tabon
Audrey Tabon was concerned when her phone wasn't ringing much this year.
The Oakland Catholic senior didn't get many calls from college coaches, which meant her future playing basketball at the next level was uncertain.
Then she got the call which would change the next four years of her life. The University of Illinois contacted her.
"I was worried because coaches weren't calling," said Tabon, a 6-foot-2 center. "Then when I got a call from the coach at Illinois saying they were interested. I took a visit and found out they were seriously interested."
Tabon will play for the Illini next year.
Before she goes, she has one final high school game to play in.
Tabon was selected to play in the 13th annual Eat'n Park Roundball Classic. She will be on the Suzie McConnell Serio West All-Stars along with Oakland Catholic teammates Meg Bulger, a 5-11 guard, and Christiana Lackner, a 6-0 forward. Their team takes on the Swin Cash East All-Stars at 4 p.m. Sunday at Pitt's Fitzgerald Field House.
"Playing in this game is a great opportunity to be with the best girls in Pennsylvania," said Tabon, a Point Breeze resident. "It makes me feel good to be included among them. I can't wait to play."
There was a time all Tabon did was sit on the bench.
She has had to overcome two knee operations -- both torn anterior cruciate ligaments in the left knee. The scar is large, but that is the only sign of any injury.
Tabon has played well recently, especially in the WPIAL and PIAA Class AAAA championship games. Tabon scored 13 points off the bench in Oakland Catholic's loss to Upper St. Clair in the WPIAL title game. She scored six points and grabbed 11 rebounds in Oakland Catholic's, 55-41, victory over Downingtown to claim the gold medal in the PIAA title game.
"Audrey was key for us in both those games," said Suzie McConnell Serio, former Oakland Catholic coach who currently coaches the Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA. "I am so proud of what she has accomplished overcoming injuries and then earning a scholarship to Illinois. She was a great player to coach. She would come to every practice and every game even if she couldn't play."
Tabon said she got her will to come back from watching her Oakland Catholic teammates. She said she wanted to get healthy again so she could get back out on the court with them."
"I missed playing with them," Tabon said. "I couldn't wait to come back. I think the first ACL I wasn't patient so I learned and was more patient with the second one. Plus, I lost some weight which helped me rehab easier."
Tabon talked about overcoming a serious knee injury with one of her future teammates at Illinois -- Schenley graduate Cindy Dallas--who has had three ACL surgeries. Dallas has one more year of eligibility remaining.
"I didn't realize she had three in the same knee," Tabon said. "I really look up to her. It will be great to have her and (Moon's) Erin Wigley there next year because it is far away and it will be nice to have a western Pennsylvania connection. It will help to make the adjustment easier."
Tabon said getting used to her all-star team will be easy.
She said her team will be competitive.
"We are friends off the court, but once these girls get on the court, they all want to win," Tabon said. "It should be pretty physical, but I like the physical side of it. I also like playing inside because layups are much easier than 3-point shots. I think my team is going to win."
What: 13th annual Eat'n Park Roundball Classic, hosted by the Western Pennsylvania Youth Basketball Club
2 p.m. -- The Edna Campbell North Team vs., The Shannon Davis South Team
4 p.m. -- The Suzie McConnell Serio West Team vs. The Swin Cash East Team
Where: Pitt's Fitzgerald Field House
Tickets: $5 for adults; $3 for students (good for both games)
Edna Campbell North All-Stars: Rachelle Harvey, 5-6, G, Peabody; Dana Stewart, 5-6, G, East Allegheny
Shannon Davis South All-Stars: Emily Alcorn, 5-8, G, Riverview; Stefanie Morante, 5-10, F, Plum; Andrea Vargo, 5-7, G, West Mifflin
Swin Cash East All-Stars: Kamela Gissendanner, 6-0, F, Clairton; Britney Jackson, 5-10, F, Schenley
Suzie McConnell Serio West All-Stars: Meg Bulger, 5-11, G, Oakland Catholic; Christiana Lackner, 6-0, F, Oakland Catholic; Audrey Tabon, 6-2, Sr., F, Oakland Catholic