By Pete Chiodo
March 26, 2013 7:00 a.m. GUYS MILLS —
Cambridge Springs, Meadville and Union City didn’t have the seasons they had hoped for this year.
The Lady Blue Devils finished .500 on the year and missed out on an at-large bid to the District 10 Class AA girls basketball tournament.
The Lady Bulldogs, meanwhile, struggled to find consistency and wound up finishing the campaign at 5-17 overall and tied for fifth place in Region 5.
And for Union City it was another year of growing pains as the Lady Bears — with a roster of nine freshmen and sophomores — finished 0-22.
So with one last opportunity to go out on a high note, the senior all-stars from those three squads made sure to make the most of it. The result: A 69-52 win for the West team on Monday night in the annual Townville Lions Club/Windstream Communications All-Star Game at Maplewood High School.
“I know our season and Meadville’s, we didn’t end like we wanted to,” Cambridge Springs’ Brianna Babb said. “I think this was kind of the final hoorah. It wasn’t all seriousness, but I think we were like, ‘Let’s do this. Let’s go out on a positive note.’”
Team West, which consisted of Cambridge Springs’ Renee Dalbec, Nicole Dalbec and Brianna Babb, Meadville’s Katie DeWalt, Franki Mullen and Shauntia Vactor-Pope, and Union City’s Morgan Peterson, dominated last night’s contest.
In fact, the East, consisting of Maplewood’s Emily Merritt, Taylor Smith, Ashley Miller and Liz Miller and Titusville’s Carly Kriner, Praise Mabugu and Haleigh Scott, led just once. That lead came about three minutes into the contest after successive baskets by Liz Miller and Mabugu, respectively.
The West finished the 20-minute half up 36-17.
The East did outscore the West 35-33 in the second half, but it was too late.
“This was a second chance,” Pope said. “Our season was over. I’m never going to play again. It was nice to play with other teams and other players and just get along.
“We all enjoyed it.”
Last night’s game did have a bit of a different mood than prior Townville Lions All-Star games. There was a little more seriousness and a little less silliness. But there were moments.
For example, Babb and Smith, two of the smallest players on the court, were physical underneath the hoop and wowed the crowd with a number of rebounds. Smith actually led the East with 10 boards, using her familiarity with Maplewood’s court to snag a couple of rebounds in the corner. Babb was second on her team, behind DeWalt’s nine rebounds, with eight.
Scott nailed a long distance trey for the East in the second half that drew some cheers from the opposing bench.
Then there was Vactor-Pope.
Vactor-Pope led all scorers with 21 points, including three 3-pointers, and added four steals to earn the West’s Most Valuable Player honor. She later won the 3-point shooting contest, topping her teammate, DeWalt, with a total of six points. DeWalt had four points. Renee Dalbec finished the competition with three points.
It was a fitting way for the Bulldogs’ leading scorer this season to end her basketball career. Vactor-Pope will join the Air Force in August.
“I’m going to hang it all up on the wall,” Vactor-Pope said, looking down at plaques she won for MVP and the 3-point contest. “I have a little basketball room. It’s nice. I can look back and always remember.
“It’s a nice way to end my career.”
Babb was the West’s second-leading scorer with 15 points. DeWalt added 10 points. Mullen chipped in with eight points.
For the East, Liz Miller took home MVP honors with 12 points. Mabugu had 10 points. Kriner finished with eight points.