Howland's Darcy Quinlan was MVP for the Red team, which won 64-57.
By BILL SULLIVAN
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
BOARDMAN -- When there was still a little doubt that Howland High's Darcy Quinlan would be named Most Valuable Player of the Al Beach Classic girls all-star basketball game, she turned in two late thrilling plays.
With her Red team, representing Trumbull County players, ahead by 11 points late in the game, Quinlan stepped up on defense, blocking a seemingly easy layup by a White team player.
Then she hit a soft 15-foot jumper from the left wing with two minutes remaining as her team prevailed 64-57.
Quinlan finished with 15 points, five assists and six rebounds to snare the MVP award. But, she didn't expect to take home the plaque.
"I had no idea" she said. "There's so many great players out here. I just came out to have fun."
Along the way the Ohio University recruit made a lot of believers.
"She's a great ball player, a nice ball player," said winning coach John Hritz of Liberty.
The Mahoning County team was coached by Steve Stewart of Salem, a Metro Athletic Conference rival of Howland.
"She's an outstanding player," Stewart said of Quinlan. "I'm glad that's the last time I have to [coach] against her; I've seen her enough during the season.
"She handles the ball well, shoots it, and her size makes her really dangerous. In regular season she plays the point and defends our [post] player. You know she's versatile. I wish her the best, somewhere else."
Kristy Gaudiose of Poland scored seven of her 13 points in the first nine minutes as the White assumed a 26-16 lead at the 5:42 mark.
The Red team went on a 14-0 run to seize a 30-26 lead 1:47 until the break and never again trailed.
"These kids have a lot of maturity," Hritz said of the rally.
"They knew they could come back. I thought they did a real commendable job."
Krystal Naples of Warren JFK scored four of her 15 points in the run.
"They made a real nice run," Stewart said. "They were moving the ball up and down the floor real well and they just got hot and shot the ball real well and that's the game."
Quinlan had a steal and a coast-to-coast layup during the run.
"We wanted to win this bad," Quinlan said. "We heard Mahoning County usually wins this every year so the Trumbull County team got together this year and decided we wanted to win it. We didn't panic and we fought right back into the game."
The White unit cut the deficit to one, 38-37, when Kate Kestner (Crestview) scored off a Kelly Williams (Canfield) assist with 11:59 showing.
When Amber Metzgar (West Branch) knocked down a 3-pointer with 11 minutes to play, the White trailed just 41-40.
The Red slowly built its margin to double figures and Quinlan registered her impressive blocked shot.
"I like to try to do that sometimes," Quinlan said. "I get yelled at a lot when the games come around so this is a nice time to try to do that. My coach called me 'The Eraser' but I don't know why."
The White team trailed 59-49, at the 2:19 mark when Quinlan worked free for a shot that clinched it.
"I was wide open. I thought I might as well shoot the ball," she said.
Hritz spoke about his team's goals.
"We had a nice practice Sunday night," he said. "The kids understood what we wanted. We said 'Lets just go out and have fun'."
Alyson Cotter of Salem made 11 3-pointers in a minute to win the 3-point shootout. Kristy Krezeczowski of Howland was second with nine.