North girls coach Jodi Hillegass watched her all-star squad run drills in preparation for the seventh annual AmeriServ Senior Hoops Showcase. The veteran Westmont Hilltop coach marveled at how quickly the group had jelled in just a couple practices.
As is the case in most all-star events, plenty of standouts and floor generals occupied the Hilltop gym for a Thursday workout.
“We’ve got a lot of point guards, which is nice,” said Hillegass whose team will face the South all-stars at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Pitt-Johnstown’s Sports Center. “They’ve got to move to the shooting guard or the three guard. We’ve got a lot of good shooters. We have some big height inside, especially with Olivia and Megan.”
Portage’s 6-foot-1 center Olivia McCabe scored more than 1,500 points, had more than 1,000 rebounds and is headed to Pitt-Johnstown. She averaged 14.5 points and 10.5 rebounds a game for the District 6-A runner-up Mustangs.
Penn Cambria’s Megan Wheeler is a 6-0 center who scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds a night.
The North’s inside game is bolstered by Conemaugh Valley’s Emily McCray, a 5-9 forward-center who averaged 14 points a game and 9.5 rebounds. McCray also can shoot from the outside and handle the ball. Likewise, Westmont Hilltop’s Alyssa Miller is capable of hurting opponents in a variety of ways. Miller, who is 5-8, averaged 12.6 points and 7.1 rebounds a game while performing her best in the clutch. Bishop Carroll’s Brooke Mento is 5-11 and can work the paint.
“We’re a well-rounded, good team,” said Blacklick Valley’s Allison Thomas. “We just all give everything we’ve got.”
Thomas is versatile inside and out. She averaged 16.7 a night while scoring more than 900 career points. Thomas had 61 3-point field goals and twice set Blacklick Valley’s single-game record with seven 3-pointers.
The Vikings standout fit right in during the practice.
“We take the ball down the court well and we can shoot outside and inside,” Thomas said. “We post up.
“This is a very special experience,” she added. “It’s been great getting to know each other and playing with players who deserve to be on the team.”
Hillegass has depth at guard.
Portage’s Emily Chobany scored more than 1,000 points on a Mustangs team that won back-to-back WestPAC crowns. Bishop Carroll’s Haley Krug, Forest Hills’ Caitlyn Gallaher, Central Cambria’s Bri Wasser, Penn Cambria’s Kaitlyn Krug, and Bishop McCort’s Mackenzie Barbin and Lacey Krouse all have handled the ball in the tough LHAC.
“It’s pretty awesome,” McCort’s Barbin said. “You come here and think these girls are your rivals. But you come to practice and have a really good time. You run through drills with them and realize everyone is just like each other.
“We have a lot of speed,” Barbin added. “We have a lot of guards. I think we’ll do a lot of running up and down the floor. We’ve got a lot of point guards, girls who can dribble and handle the ball. We’ve also got a few strong forwards. I think we’re an all-around strong team.”
Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/masty81.