By RICH GIBSON
Times Leader Sports Writer
It was a memorable 2010-11 girls' hoop season. Not only for Shadyside's high-achieving Lady Tigers - but for numerous other outstanding players who make up the All-Times Leader Girls' Basketball Team.
PICTURED IS the 2011 All Times Leader Girls Basketball Team. Front row, from left, are Karli Bonar (Shadyside), Jesse Machovina (St. Clairsville), Alexa Isaly (River), Nicole Smolenak (Bridgeport) and Katie Fry (Bellaire). Second row, from left, are Megan Beard (River), Kelsey Holloway (Shadyside), Hayley Holenka (Shadyside), Jessica Kinney (Martins Ferry), Kayla Bodnar (Buckeye Local) and Julie Bilyeu (Beallsville). Back row, from left, are Coach Tina Yates (Shadyside), Rosa Young (St. John), Sarah Neavin (Shadyside), Heidi Hines (Barnesville), Ellie LeMasters (St. John), Madison Richards (Harrison Central)?and Coach Drew Greenwood (Union Local).
Sharing co-captain honors are four prime time performers each of whom graced the T-L's preview tab last November: St. John's Ellie LeMasters; Shadyside's Kelsey Holloway; Monroe Central's Alex Kuhn; and Barnesville's Heidi Hines.
Sharing T-L Coach of the Year laurels are Shadyside's Tina Yates and Union Local's Drew Greenwood.
Following are capsules for each team member and coach:
KAYLA BODNAR, Buckeye Local - A driving force for Coach Willy Luther's Lady Panthers, Bodnar made 58 consecutive varsity starts, capping a superb prep career this past season.
"Kayla is easily one of the hardest-working players I've been around," Luther remarked. "She gave us exceptional versatility at the offensive end with both three-point and to-the-hoop scoring ability."
Bodnar netted 14 points per game and also averaged just under six rebounds. "If we needed a defensive stop, Kayla drew that assignment," Luther noted. "She's the type player who stepped up time and again. "Kayla enjoyed a productive career and is a great role model for the young players coming up through our program."
Bodnar plans to enroll at Kent State University and study Education.
ALEX KUHN, Monroe Central - A four-year stalwart for Troy Baker's Lady Seminoles, Kuhn collected 1,274 career points and did so in a variety of ways.
"Alex is such a great competitor who loves to play the game," Baker advised. "She was a huge part of us winning two OVAC and two PVC (Pioneer Valley Conference) titles."
An adept player with unlimited range, Kuhn connected for 176 career three-point buckets. As a senior, she netted 17 points per game and was recognized as one of the valley's most efficient free throw shooters, converting 93 of 109 opportunities.
"Alex sees the floor as well as any player I've coached. She was just a true joy to both coach and watch play," Baker stated.
NICOLE SMOLENAK, Bridgeport - Talk about an impact player. This Lady Bulldogs' freshman resembled anything but a ninth grader for Coach Rob Zitzelsberger's ball club.
"Nicole truly made an immediate impact on our program," Zitzelsberger confirmed. "Although facing many junk defenses and double teams, she was able to be a consistent scorer as well as distributing the ball to her teammates."
Smolenak scored an impressive 358 points, good for a 16.3 per game norm. She also landed 174 rebounds, recorded 82 steals and handed out 74 assists.
"Nicole is a solid ball-handler, a solid defensive player and has a great knack for rebounding," Zitzelsberger added. "She's an even better person and a great young lady to be around."
MADISON RICHARDS, Harrison Central - The Lady Huskies' 5-9 junior was an all-night force in the paint and a difficult matchup for opponents.
"Madison's such a tough competitor. She's a model of consistency for our team and program," stated HC Coach Nick Yourkovich.
Richards' impressive numbers reflect her coach's remarks. She scored 14.2 points per game and added 9.2 boards per night enroute to totaling nine double-doubles on the season.
Additionally, Richards cashed in 72.5 percent at the foul line and caused constant problems as a steady defender.
"I don't know if there's anyone around that plays as hard as Madison does," Yourkovich adds. "I really look forward to what she's going to accomplish next season as a senior."
KATIE FRY, Bellaire - The Lady Reds' 5-4 junior was counted on to provide consistent offense for second-season BHS Coach Marci Bonar. More times than not, Fry answered the call.
"Katie served as our co-captain this season as well as our scoring and floor leader," Bonar described.
"Katie improved in so many ways for us, including her level of confidence. She completely changed her shot which required a lot of work on her part during the off-season."
Fry tallied just under a team-leading 15 points a night for the Reds. She also distributed 3.7 assists and recorded 2.1 steals.
"Katie also became more effective driving to the basket because of the hard work she put in," Bonar concluded.
CORI MEDLEY, Union Local - This Lady Jets' freshman remained under the radar until her first varsity outing when opponents discovered Medley was no ordinary ninth grader.
"Cori's an outstanding young person with so many positive attributes and a deep passion to do well in everything she does," noted UL Coach Drew Greenwood.
Her coach's comments are reflected by Medley's steady production this past season. She scored 14.4 points per outing and also landed five rebounds a night.
Additionally, Medley displayed uncanny poise for a player her age.
"Cori is very much deserving of this honor," Greenwood added. "The Lady Jets are very appreciative of her strong work ethic and to have her as a valued teammate."
ELLIE LEMASTERS, St. John Central - The Green's 6-0 senior capped a sterling prep career for Coach Bubba Kapral's high achieving quint.
"Ellie blossomed into one of the premier players in the OVAC," Kapral noted. "She enjoyed a superb senior season, one in which she averaged 19.1 points and 11 rebounds per game."
LeMasters, who compiled 1,026 career points, was recognized on a number of postseason all-star teams and was selected to play in both the District 12 and OVAC All-Star games.
"Ellie meant a great deal to our program," Kapral stressed. "She worked hard to improve her game. She is an ideal student-athlete and will have an outstanding collegiate career."
ROSA YOUNG, St. John Central - This 5-6 junior dandy is a three-year starter and noted for her fierce competitive nature.
"We have been blessed with many super competitors at St. John's and Rosa ranks with the best of them in that regard," Kapral disclosed.
Young averaged 15 points and six boards per game in the Lady Irish's 17-4 winter campaign. "Rosa showed tremendous toughness and character by playing in our last two games with mono," Kapral pointed out.
"We have 6 of our top 7 players returning and Rosa is the ideal leader to take that group to the next level. She possesses all the physical attributes but also the intangibles. She is primed for a super senior year."
JESSICA KINNEY, Martins Ferry - The Lady Riders' talented 10th grader followed up a sterling frosh campaign with another highly productive season under Purple Coach Dave Reasbeck.
With the ability to strike from virtually anywhere on the floor, Kinney assaulted opposing defenses for 22.5 points per game.
In addition to her adept offensive abilities, Kinney worked just as hard under the bucket to snare some 10.8 boards per start making her among the valley's premier two-way threats.
"Jess had an outstanding sophomore campaign for us," Reasbeck confirmed. "To put up the numbers she did while being the focal point of other teams' game plans is just outstanding. However, I truly think the best is yet to come for her."
MEGAN BEARD, River - This Lady Pilots' senior was not a prolific scorer, but instead, a productive role player and invaluable asset for Coach Rick Isaly's district tournament-qualifying ball club.
"Megan was one of the reasons for our success this season," Isaly confirmed. "She recorded a double-double in our sectional win against Monroe Central. Although Megan is 5 ft. 9, she plays more like a six-footer."
Beard compiled a team-leading 118 rebounds and also recorded 30 steals. "Meagan is also a strong defender in the post and created problems for our opponents. She's very adept at doing all the intangibles and little things which don't show up in the box score."
ALEXA ISALY, River - A four-year starter for her father's Lady Pilots, Alexa capped a superb prep career with an outstanding senior campaign.
"She's been our point guard four years and has displayed great leadership qualities," River's coach remarked. "Alexa led our team in steals and assists four consecutive seasons and was either first or second in scoring. Obviously, she'll be difficult to replace."
This season, Isaly netted 10.4 points per game and also landed just under five boards per start. Additionally, she was a 76 percent foul shooter.
"Alexa helped turn our program around and point it in the right direction," Coach Isaly pointed out.
HEIDI HINES, Barnesville - A mainstay for Coach Jamie Carpenter's Lady Rocks, Hines completed an exemplary prep career at the western Belmont County school.
"Heidi was successful in virtually all phases of the game," Carpenter disclosed. "In addition to being a reliable scorer and rebounder, Heidi took great pride in getting her teammates involved. She also worked hard improving her defense to become a complete player.'
This season, Hines hooped 20.9 points per start as one of the valley's premier players. She also nabbed 10 boards a night and distributed three assists an outing.
Hines was honored on several postseason all-star units and will participate in Ohio's prestigious North-South game later this month.
JULIE BILYEU, Beallsville - The Lady Blue Devils' program has produced its share of standout cagers. Add this productive junior to the list.
"Julie works very hard both in-season and during the summer," states Big Blue Coach Rick Jarrett. "That's easily reflected by her numbers this past season."
Bilyeu was a major force at both ends of the floor - netting 19.2 points and 13 boards for season norms.
"Julie finished the season with 404 points and 296 rebounds. She's a player who shows up to play hard every night," Jarrett added. "She's very dedicated and determined to return for another excellent season as a senior."
JESSE MACHOVINA, St. Clairsville - This Lady Red Devils' junior is heading to Ohio State to play softball. However, she displayed equal ability as a premier hoop star for Coach Bruce Stiles.
"Jesse was a go-to player for us all season," Stiles indicated. "She's a very skilled athlete whose game improved tremendously as the season progressed."
Machovina averaged 12.2 points and four rebounds for the Lady Devils with a full varsity season remaining.
"Jess had a great deal of responsibility placed upon her this season," Stiles added. "She handled everything well and did a very good job running the team as our point guard."
KELSEY HOLLOWAY, Shadyside - The heart and soul of the LT's well-balanced club, Holloway was the consummate team player for a high-achieving Orange & Black combine.
"Kelsey was our senior leader who led by example," Yates disclosed. "She fought back from major knee surgery to be a huge factor in the success we had throughout the season."
On the floor, Holloway recorded averages of 12.4 (points), 4.4 (rebounds); 2.8 (assists); and 2 (steals). "Those numbers are a great indication how well-rounded a player Kelsey is," Yates added. "She excels in basically all aspects of the game. Her value to this program was exceptional."
SARAH NEAVIN, Shadyside - The LT's were a perfect fit for a Tigers' quint which recorded an unbeaten regular season enroute to qualifying for the big dance in Columbus.
"Sarah was another of our senior leaders and an excellent role model for our younger players," Yates described. "Her positive attitude was so beneficial and definitely rubbed off on her teammates."
Neavin netted nine points per start and averaged five boards as a steadying force in the post.
"Sarah came up big for us time and again," Yates added. "She plays with great enthusiasm and was instrumental in encouraging her teammates to play their best."
BROOKE MEINTEL, Shadyside - Call this hard-working junior Ms. Blue Collar for her ever-present work around the boards. "No doubt, Brooke was our workhorse in the paint," Yates confirmed. "She has a great knack for rebounding and works hard for position."
Meintel netted 6.7 points but also averaged 10.4 boards per night. "Brooke totally dedicated herself to making improvements (leading into this season) and she definitely succeeded," Yates advised. "She plays with boundless energy and inspires the rest of her teammates in the process. We're looking forward to having her back next season."
KARLI BONAR, Shadyside - Tigers' opponents were continually burned by this savvy sophomore from three-point land. "Karli did a great job recognizing (opposing defenses) and nailing open shots when they became available." Yates observed.
"For such a young player, Karli has a firm grasp on the game and will do nothing but continue to get better." The LT's adept guard played a major role in the Orange's march to Columbus, averaging 12.2 points and three assists. Although a constant threat beyond the arc, Bonar is equally adept going to the hoop or distributing the basketball.
HAYLEY HOLENKA, Shadyside - The second half of the LT's talented young backcourt, Holenka's game made significant progress as the season advanced. Never was that more evident than in the postseason where she was a major player.
"Hayley is one of the most competitive players I've been around," Yates related. "It seemed she was up for virtually every challenge we faced." Holenka hooped a team leading 12.7 points per start but also starred at the defensive end where she recorded numerous steals.
"Hayley came to play every night," Yates added. "I don't think there's any question, the best is yet to come for her."
GREENWOOD - Though the Lady Jets' coach was impressed by the makeup of his team last fall, he was uncertain how they would react at crunch time.
"Practices were good and the kids did an outstanding job developing chemistry. Still, we weren't certain how that would play out once the season started," he explained.
Greenwood's quint held their own during the regular season, finishing runnerup to Edison in the OVAC 3-A Division. But UL first knocked off Weirton, then upended Oak Glen to capture the 3-A crown.
"Credit the girls for their work ethic and determination to become better players as the season progressed. It was a pleasure working with them and we look forward to getting back after it in the summer."
YATES - The Lady Tigers' leader admits feeling good vibrations based on a successful summer of 2010. "Everything starts there and I felt we had an opportunity to achieve some success if we stayed healthy," she disclosed.
"Our team chemistry was outstanding from the outset. We basically had a team of unselfish players dedicated to working for a common cause. We experienced so many great things leading up to the state tournament. Although we certainly didn't achieve the results we were seeking, the season was incredibly special."
Yates is confident the 2011-12 LT's can become another special breed. "We'll have to get back to work. Nothing ever comes easy. But I believe we have (returning) players who really want to carry on this winning tradition."
Gibson may be reached at email@example.com