Smolenak, Ellzy captain T-L?girls’ squad

The 2013-14 girls’ high school basketball season is now nothing more than a memory.

And it yielded many memories for area teams from individual accomplishments to team titles and records.

The season was especially memorable here in the Ohio Valley and today, The Times Leader Sports Staff – with the help of area coaches – recognizes its annual All Times Leader Girls Basketball Team.

The team features 18 players and recognizes a coach who guided his squad to unmatched success in the school’s history.

A pair of all-Ohioans – Nicole Smolenak of Bridgeport and Katie Ellzy of Harrison Central – have been named as co-captains of the team.

Here’s a capsule look at the honorees:

NICOLE SMOLENAK, Bridgeport – A 4-year letterwinner for head coach Rob Zitzelsberger, Smolenak displayed the true meaning of being a team player.

Her first two years with the Bulldogs she was the team’s leading scorer and go-to person. Then with the addition of some additional talent, she switched roles to point guard and adjusted very well her final two seasons.

“During her freshman and sophomore years, Nicole led the us in scoring. For the past two years, she has been a true point guard distributing the ball to Maclaine (Murad) and Caitlyn (Kroll),” Zitzelsberger added. “For the past four years, Nicole has been the heart of our team, leading the Lady Bulldogs in accomplishing team goals and successful seasons.”

Smolenak was rewarded for her fine season by being named third team all-Ohio in Division IV.

Also a 1,000-point scorer, she averaged 11.8 points a game, while also handing out 93 assists, pulling down 141 rebounds, charting 70 steals and only turning the ball over 28 times. She was also deadly from the charity stripe where she shot a sizzling 82.8 percent (72-87). She connected on 51.3 percent of her shots from the field and sank 35 three-pointers.

KATIE ELLZY, Harrison Central – This junior garnered third-team Division III all-Ohio accolades after averaging 17.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2 blocks per game for the Huskies en route to the program’s first district semifinal berth.

Ellzy, a junior, shot 57 percent from the field, and was the centerpiece of Harrison Central’s offense, according to to Yourkovich.

”She is a double-double waiting to happen every night,” Yourkovich said. ”She is athletic, aggressive and skilled. Katie is the type of player every coach would want on their team.”

KIERSTYN KIDDER, Bellaire – This Lady Big Reds junior invested the time to improve her game and reaped the benefits this season for Coach Marci Quirk’s club.

Kidder poured in 15.5 points a game, grabbed nearly five rebounds and and made two steals a night. She was recognized as an all-district and all-district 12 player for her efforts.

“Kierstyn worked really hard and it paid off,” Quirk said. “She took more shots and still managed to increase her shooting percentage. I love coaching Kierstyn because she loves the game as much as I do.”

MORGAN STALDER, Martins Ferry – This Lady Riders’ senior is what head coach Lindsay Coyne deems a “coach’s dream.”

Stalder was an all-around player for the Lady Riders. She scored 9.2 points a game, made 2.6 steals and grabbed 3.6 rebounds en route to earning all-district 12 and honorable mention all-Eastern District and Buckeye 8.

“Morgan is considered our defensive specialist and was a fierce competitor,” Coyne said. “Her role expanded this year. She was our leader on and off the court and became more of an offensive threat. I knew that Morgan would give me everything she had every day.”

MACLAINE MURAD, Bridgeport – This senior surpassed the coveted 1,000-point plateau this season when she averaged just under 15 points a game. She also grabbed 130 rebounds, handed out 40 assists, charted 62 steals and shot 68 percent from the free throw line.

“For the past two years, Maclaine has been a steady performer. Her knowledge of the game and work ethic elevated our team play,” Zitzelsberger said. “Maclaine’s fierce competitiveness will serve her well when she plays at the next level as a Bethany Lady Bison.”

She earned all-District 12 and was selected to play in the All-Star Game, as well as the Sam Mumley OVAC All-Star Classic.

CAITLYN KROLL, Bridgeport – This sophomore led the Lady Bulldogs in several offensive categories this season, including scoring where she averaged a shade under 17 points.

In addition, she also grabbed 204 rebounds, recorded 90 steals, swished three dozen three-point goals and shot 46.9 percent from the floor, all of which were team-highs.

“For the past two seasons Caitlyn has led us in scoring,” Zitzelsberger said. “Caitlyn is a very unselfish player and a strong rebounder. Being only a sophomore, her future looks bright with her unlimited potential on the basketball hardwood.”

JENSEN CARETTI, River – One of the Ohio Valley’s best talents, this 6-0 sophomore enjoyed another outstanding winter on the hardwood.

The Pilots’ do-everything scored an area-best 25 points a contest while pulling down 11 rebounds a night for head coach Rick Isaly’s Hannibal-based squad. She also averaged four blocked shots, three steals and a pair of assists a night, while shooting 62 percent from the floor and 75 from the free throw stripe.

“Jensen was everything to us. She had to score and rebound every night for us to have a chance to win,” Isaly noted. “She’s an outstanding talent. She’s a shot intimidator on defense and we kept her close to the basket to alter team’s shots and keep them from driving against us.”

ALEXIS ST. CLAIR, St. Clairsville – This Lady Red Devils’ junior was one of the steadiest players, on both ends of the floor, in the area this winter for Coach Alicia Freeman’s squad.

St. Clair had an impressive campaign in which she averaged 14 points and six rebounds a contest. She was recognized on the all-Eastern District and District 12 squads.

“Alexis only knows one way to play,” Freeman said. “She never quits and played as hard as she could on both ends of the floor. Many times, she defended the other team’s best player. Plus, she’s a strong offensive player. I am really excited to have her back.”

CARLEE GILLESPIE, St. Clairsville – This Lady Red Devils senior standout was a key cog in helping St. C. to the Division III district tournament.

Gillespie, who was has been chosen for the OVAC and District 12 All-Star Games, averaged 13 points and seven rebounds a game. She was also pesky on the defensive end of the floor.

“Carlee has the heart of a champion,” Freeman said. “She has one level of play and that’s 110 percent all the time. She never quits and somehow finds a way to play harder. She stepped up big this year for us, and we’re really going to miss her.”

ANNA DeFILIPPO, St. Clairsville – As the season moved along, this talented sophomore became more and more of a leader for the Lady Red Devils and Freeman.

DeFilippo was a consistent offensive threat, netting 14 points a game. She also distributed well at five assists a contest and grabbed five rebounds.

“Anna has so much drive and determination to be better at the game,” Freeman said. “She really did a nice job on the boards for us this year, she plays well with her teammates and she’s versatile offensively. It’ll be nice to have her back.”

MARISSA ROSE, St. John Central – This 5-7 guard was an instant impact performer as a frosh, helping the Lady Irish to the OVAC championship game. Her game elevated to another level this past winter.

Rose averaged 20.4 points a game in providing the glue to an injury-riddled squad. She topped the 30-point mark in three games this past season. Rose also averaged 7 rebounds and 4 assists per game.

“Marissa is a natural scorer. She has a nice outside touch with a great ability to also get to the bucket,” said SJC head coach Bubba Kapral. “Marissa personifies toughness and commitment. She came to practice and play every day while never completely healthy.”

LAUREN SWIGER, Buckeye Local – This junior was an anchor for the Panthers, popping in an average of 16.7 points per game. The honorable mention Division II all-Eastern District selection also recorded 8.4 rebounds and 4.2 steals per game. She shot 57.2 percent from the free throw line.

”A true competitor, a true leader, and a true joy to coach,” Buckeye Local head coach Tom Figurski said. ”Players like Lauren make a first-year coach’s job a lot easier, especially when you can count on her to provide maximum efforts on both both the offensive and defensive ends of the court.’

KARA DUNFEE, Harrison Central – This senior wrapped up her career by earning second-team Eastern District honors after scoring nearly 8.3 points and 4.4 assists per game. She is the school’s single-season record holder for assists.

Harrison Central head coach Nick Yourkovich said Dunfee was an ”extension of himself on the floor.”

”Kara was a great leader for us,” Yourkovich said. ”She worked extremely hard hard to get to the level she played at this year. She really pushed everyone on the team to perform better each time out.

”I couldn’t be prouder of her for the way she handled herself all season, and her entire career. She deserves all of the accolades that are coming her way.”

JESSE LEDGER, Harrison Central – The school leader for 3-pointers in a career (112) and in a season (55), Ledger finished her career as a well-rounded player. She averaged 8.5 points and 2.3 boards this season and shot 33 percent from beyond the arc en route to special mention all-Eastern District kudos.

”She developed into a very good all-around player, not just a shooting specialist,” Yourkovich said. ”She worked extremely hard on her defense, which turned her into one of our most consistent defensive players.”

TONI ANDES, Shadyside – This senior was one of the bridges between one era of Tigers basketball and another. When Jim Miller returned to coach the LTs last season he counted on the senior to help bring leadership and guidance to a unit that lost quite a bit of talent to graduation. Andes responded by producing 13 points, six rebounds and three assists per game.

”Although we had a difficult season,” Miller said, ”I feel we developed a foundation to build on and Toni was a big part of that.

”Toni had a very good career as an LT and I thank her for her dedication to our program.”

CORI MEDLEY, Union Local – This senior finished her prep career in style, helping lead the Jets to the sectional final before bowing out to eventual regional finalist Garaway.

The senior finished her career with 1,344 points, reaching the 1,000-point plateau in the second game of the season. During the course of the season, Medley became UL’s all-time leader in 3-point field goals. She made 28 3s this season.

All told, Medley averaged 15.2 points per game, 6.7 rpg, 4.6 apg and 2.7 spg. She shot 78 percent from the charity stripe.

”Cori is a very talented, hardworking, unselfish player,” Union Local head coach Kelley Hanlon said. ”There were many times she would much rather got for the assist than the shot and still led our team in almost every statistical category.”

SHAYLA MARKOVICH, Barnesville – The Lady Shamrocks’ post player, Markovich averaged a double-double for head coach Jamie Carpenter with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

“She was our main focus on offense. When we needed a bucket, we’d get the ball inside to her,” Carpenter explained. “Defensively, we really counted on her for rebounding.”

She also shot 63 percent from the free throw line and has been the Shamrocks leading scorer in each of her two seasons.

TALITHA BEDFORD, Beallsville – Only a freshman, Bedford came on strong as the season progressed in head coach Ty English’s first year on the job.

She averaged 15.1 points per game and shot 68 percent from the free throw stripe for the Lady Blue Devils.

“Talitha really played well for us,” English assessed. “She really likes to drive to the basket, and she handles the ball very well.”

NICK YOURKOVICH, Harrison Central – It was a season of firsts as Harrison Central to it’s first 20-win campaign, first OVAC tournament title, and first sectional championship en route to Eastern District Coach of the Year honors. The Huskies advanced to the district semifinals before falling to highly-touted Garaway.

Along the way, Yourkovich guided his squad through a rugged schedule, which included the always-challenging Buckeye 8 slate.

”I’m honored to be selected as there were a lot of excellent coaching performances this year,” Yourkovich said. ”This is truly a group award. From the players and their hard work and effort through the summer season, to the coaches and the countless hours they put in. That is what it takes for teams and programs to be successful.”