— Prep basketball—
By Greg Gulas
Fifty-two high school basketball players from Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties have been invited to participate in the 43rd annual Al Beach All-Star Basketball Classic.
The girls and boys all-star games will be played Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Girard High School.
Three-point shooting contests and a slam-dunk competition also will be part of the activity.
Lowellville girls coach Tony Matisi, the Beach director for seven years, says the event is a reward.
“This game is the culmination of their scholastic careers and all participants need to be recognized for the extraordinary numbers that they have all posted; both individually and team-wise over their varsity careers,” Matisi said. “They’ve all earned the right to play and this game remains a fun time for everyone from players, to coaches to the fans in the stands.”
The late Bob Cene, Sr., founder of Astro Shapes in Struthers and a big supporter of local amateur athletics teams, will be honored as the Mahoning Valley Coaches Association “Sportsman of the Year.”
East’s Dennis Simmons and Brookfield’s Bill Kovach will be co-coaches of the Red squad while Canfield’s Todd Muckleroy and Girard’s Craig Hannon of host Girard will be White squad coaches.
Simmons and Kovach will coach two of their own players — Deontay Scott and Taylor Johnson of the Panther, and Jeremy Quinlan and Colin Harkulich of the Warriors.
Niles’ Ray Russ, who averaged 20.1 points per game, is the Red team’s top scorer. Cardinal Mooney’s Doug Caputo, who at 6-foot-8 helped the Cardinals to the regional semifinals, is the game’s tallest player.
Ursuline and Warren Harding each have two players on the White team — Kevin Jackson and Ryan Strollo for the Irish and O’sha Jackson and Mikquan Dorsey, for the Raiders.
In the girls game, Crestview’s Rick Gates and Austintown Fitch’s Stacie Cepin are the coaches.
Columbiana and Poland will each send two players — Khylea Fullum and Megan Cutlip from the Clippers and Kasie Serich and Rachael Robertson from the Bulldogs.
Ashley Harrison, Crestview’s top scorer who averaged 20.2 points per outing, is the top scorer.
Lowellville and Canfield will be represented with three players. The Cardinals are Sabrina Mangapora, Abby Baker and Kayla Barko. The Rockets are Kaye Solak, Maddie Opritza and Rachel Durbin.
Slam Dunk finalists are: Johnson and Rashawn Boykins of East; Daylen Williams (Youngstown Christian); Peyton Aldridge (state semi-finalist LaBrae); Corey Phillips (Mineral Ridge); Ryan Bush (Salem); Quinlan; and Jackson.
Girls three-point finalists are Opritza, Miranda Boyle (Girard), Leah Leshnack (Liberty), Abbie Pate (Bristol), Megan Sefcik (Fitch) and Emily Zehentbauer (United Local).
The boys 3-point finalists are Michael Butcher (Fitch), Chris Greathouse (Newton Falls) Brandon Lee (Bristol) Andrew Midgley (Canfield) and Stephen Politano (McDonald).