STARS, NEW AND OLD, SHINE BRIGHT AT GIRLS GYMRAT CHALLENGE
By STEVE AMEDIO
GymRat CHALLENGE Director of Communications
There are new standouts every year, new players who emerge at the annual GymRat CHALLENGE, an event with a reputation for being a place where players often first break through for a new level of recognition, a place where stars first shine.
But, this year’s event, which drew 228 teams from throughout the eastern United States and Canada, also helped reinforce the luster of a star who first emerged a year ago.
Diminutive 5-foot-5 point guard Katie Benzan began building her AAU circuit reputation a year ago here when she was the MVG (Most Valuable GymRat) of the 13-under age division, the bracket for the tournament’s youngest players.
A year older now, Benzan might not have grown much in physical stature but she showed off a skill level that developed to an even higher plateau to lead her New England Crusaders team to division championship at the 14-under level and earn designation as a divisional top player once again.
Benzan is believed to be the first girls’ player to twice be named an MVG at the tournament in its nine-year history. And, there appears to be more in the offing. The young lady from Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, MA., has two more years of AAU eligibility to add even more GymRat CHALLENGE hardware to her rapidly growing trophy case.
Her games, though, weren’t the only showcases for the future bright stars of the women’s game.
The City Rocks captured the top age-level crown, the 16-under division, behind some strong individual play from slender 6-foot-1 forward Emily Durr of Utica Notre Dame High School.
Durr’s AAU coach, Keith Danzy, said that his player might be one of the most-underrated performers nationally, primarily because she had been typecast previously as a one-dimensional long-range shooter.
But, Durr has worked hard on the other aspects of her game, and they were all on display … a hard-nosed defensive effort, tenacious drives to the basket, strong rebounding along with the long-range shooting efficiency… at the GymRat.
Durr, who has already made a commitment to attend Iowa State, wasn’t alone in lifting the City Rocks’ to a dominating run through the event. Point guard Mariah Ruff, a 5-foot-8 backcourt performer from Oneonta High School, ran the team to near perfection and was also a top-tier all-star selection here. And, the Rocks’ smothering team-oriented defense made it hard for opponents to even get good looks at the basket during GymRat play.
And, then, there was considerable team-wide pride from the Rochester Premier, which brings a first-ever GymRat championship back to that city. The Premier was led by the clutch play of standout guard Candaisy Crawford, who elevated her own performance in championship bracket play, and her team needed every bit of what she provided in winning its last four games by 4, 3, 3 and 3 points.
The GymRat, too, proved to be a place where height was not a requisite for success this season. Not only did the 5-foot-5 Benzan capture her age division’s MVG, but an even smaller Keelah Dixon, all of 5-foot-3, won the top individual award when her Bay State Jaguars squad captured the 13-under age division.
Dixon not only turned in clutch play, particularly on the defensive end, in her team’s run to the tournament title, but exhibited a rare display of perseverance when she got back on the court to help lead her team to victory after experiencing severe leg cramps midway through the second half of the championship contest.
It was all proof once again that it takes more than just talent to have GymRat success. It takes a combination of will and skill, and this year’s event continued to enhance its reputation as a place where those who have those traits emerge and shine the brightest.
16:U GYMRAT CHALLENGE AGE DIVISION
DURR’S ALL-AROUND PLAY LIFTS CITY ROCKS TO CHAMPIONSHIP
SARATOGA SPRINGS-Emily Durr, a slender 6-foot-1 swing player, is called by her City Rocks’ AAU coach Keith Danzy “one of the most-underrated players in the country.”
That might not be the case much longer, not after the performances Durr turned in at the ninth annual GymRat CHALLENGE girls’ event over Father’s Day weekend.
Durr might have previously been underrated because she has long had a reputation as a long-range sniper. But, that’s no longer the only strong aspect of her game.
“I’ve worked hard on the other parts of my game,” said Durr. “I’ve worked hard to be a better ball-handler, to be able to slash to the basket, to be able to help out on defense.”
She showed the full package at the GymRat event, helping lead the City Rocks to the 16-under age division’s championship that culminated with Sunday’s a decisive 61-42 victory at Skidmore College over Rivals of the Reading, MA area. The championship was also the first for Danzy, who has been bringing teams to the GymRat event all nine years of its existence.
Durr had a championship game-high 20 points, and shot 50 percent (12-of-24) from three-point range in the seven games her team played. But in Sunday’s title contest she not only drained long-range shots, but hit from just about everywhere else when things were on the line.
With the City Rocks ahead by three midway through the second half, Durr connected on a long three. Two possessions later she sank a 17-footer. And, two possessions after that she drove hard to the hoop on a fast break to score. When that Durr-led surge was over the winners had a 15-point edge and never led by less than 12 again.
The improvement in her all-around game attracted the interest of high-level programs nationally before she recently made a verbal commitment to attend Iowa State.
But, Durr wasn’t alone in helping the City Rocks capture a coveted GymRat championship.
Teammate Maria Ruff, a 5-foot-8 point guard who has committed to attend St. Bonaventure, ran the team to perfection. She added 14 points in the championship game and had at least a half-dozen creative assists. Teammate Breahandah Stratton, a 6-foot-0 inside force, added 11 points in the final contest. And the City Rocks used a team-wide swarming defense that made finding offensive openings nearly impossible for their opponents.
“Emily is the real deal,” said Danzy, about Durr, afterwards. “She might have previously been underrated, but she has been doing it all for us, whether it’s scoring, playing defense or rebounding. And, she’s an even better person … she has the whole package.”
Danzy’s team, without a player taller than 6-foot-1, was the whole on-court package while winning seven straight games here, combining not only an effective offense, but a smothering defense, particularly in the paint area.
“Defense is a big part of what we do,” said Danzy. “The girls work hard on defense. It’s hard to get players to want to play defense during the AAU season, but it’s not hard for us because I demand it. We stress that it’s the most important part of our success. We try to take away the other team’s best players and smother the ball.”
And Durr is the perfect example of adhering to that philosophy. She might have captured the eye of college recruiters with her long-range shooting ability, but her play in the GymRat event showed that there’s more to Durr’s game than just an unerring long-range ability.
She has become a well-round player, someone who isn’t likely to be underrated any more.
16:U AGE DIVISION MVG (MOST VALUABLE GYMRAT)
Emily Durr (6-1 forward guard/forward) City Rocks/Utica Notre Dame H.S.: A long, lanky and athletic guard who is tough enough to swing over to forward spot as well. One of the top long-range shooters here, but can do more than that. Has the ability to handle the ball under pressure in the open court. At her best on the offensive end, whether from long range or slashing to the basket and finishing against contact. Had a game-high 20 points in the championship game and shot 50 percent (12-of-24) on three-point attempts in the event. Has committed to attend Iowa State.
16:U ALL GYMRAT CHALLENGE TEAM
Keileigh Semion (5-6 point guard) J.B. Hoops-Hemmler/Dunmore H.S.: Outstanding point-guard skills, just a superb ball-handler. True court general on the floor. Etremely quick guard who runs the court very well and pushes the ball in transition at every opportunity to either get to the basket or find open teammates.
Katie Miller (5-7 guard) J.B. Hoops-Hemmler/Honesdale Area H.S.: Outstanding ball-handler who can play both guard positions. Very good “handle,” who is unselfish enough to find teammates with good passes. Also solid shooter, who can deliver from out beyond the three-point range. Despite sharing PG duties, also led her team in scoring one game here.
Jane Joyce (5-4 point guard) J.B. Hoops-Hemmler/West Scranton H.S.: Outstanding leader as a point guard. Very aggressive at times, but usually lets the game dictate what she does. Doesn’t seem phased by any defense. Plays hard at all times. Capablle scorer, averaged nine points per game here, but leadership skills and court IQ will carry her.
Alexis Stephens (6-1 post) J.B. Hoop-Hemmler/North Pocono H.S.: Very strong and physical post player who showed great mobility around the paint on the offensive end. Already strong enough for the college level. Outstanding rebounder at both ends of the court. Scores well in the paint. Gets position inside and can’t be moved.
Taj Lewis (5-11 post) Basketball Shoppe/Longmeadow H.S.: A left-handed, very aggressive post player. She is also athletic enough to get out on the fast break and finishes … gets a rebound and goes with ht. Also, an above-average ball-handler for her size/position.
Aliya Butts (5-5 point guard) Philly Freedom Stars/Holy Cross H.S.: A outstanding point guard that has a terrific shooting touch, out to beyond the three-point stripe. Extremely quick guard who uses dribble penetration to her benefit. Gets past defenders into the lane to cause damage.
Ashley Russell (5-6 point guard) Bay State Magic Elite/Braintree H.S.: Outstanding guard skills. Can provide offense, can really shoot from the three-point stripe. Also showed an ability to penetrate through traffic and create shots, or get to the rim. Has a very good handle and showed good court vision.
Katy Comitz (5-7 guard) Firm AC Elite/Dallas H.S.: Very good guard who can really shoot the three-ball. Very good handle. Capable of playing either guard position. Not only creates offense for self, but capable passer. Being recruited at D-II level right now.
Rebecca Rutkowski (6-0 post/wing) Firm AC Elite/Crestwood H.S.: Ver good, decent-sized post player. Moves well with and without the ball. Hard worker in the paint. Rebounds the ball well and uses size and strength effectively. Has committed to St. Francis.
Brianna Herlihy (6-0 post/wing) Bay State Magic Elite/Braintree H.S. Outstanding rebounder, uses her height to great effect. Also, showed strong ball-handling skills for her size. Very solid, fundamental player. She plays with great intensity at all times.
Bridget Herlihy (6-2 post/wing) Bay State Magic Elite/Braintree H.S. Similar player to her sister, Brianna, only a little taller. Excellent ball-handler, almost guard-like. Great rebounder. Can get the ball and break press with her dribble. Plays with great intensity. Tremendous upside.
Kiera O’Donnell (5-11 guard/forward) Ct. Starters-Red Holy Cross H.S. A tall guard who can move over and play the wing position and be effective in either role at either end of the court. Shoots the ball well from deep, out to the three-point stripe yet also unafraid to go in and rebound.
Nicole Viselli (5-7 guard) Bay State Blizzard/Pentucket H.S.: One of the top shooters here, especially from three-point land. She can also slash to the basket. Has a very good handle and plays with passion at all times. Without a doubt one of the best 3-point shooters in the tournament at any level.
Corrine Williams (6-1 forward) Ct. Starters Red/Bloomfield H.S.: A left-hander that plays the wing and can shoot the three-pointer. Good sized perimeter player who loves like silk. Very good now, but looks to have high upside. Shoots, rebounds and handles the ball effectively on the break. Extremely versatile.
Chelsea Domian (5-11 guard) Ct. Starters Red/Tolland H.S.: She is a point guard with exceptional height. Very good handle for her size, uses it to get to the basket or make creative plays. Good passer who finds open teammates. Can slash to the hoop seemingly at will to make good things happen.
Olivia Conrad (6-1 forward) Bay State Magic Elite/Archbishop Williams H.S.: A lefty post player that can really finish around the rum. She runs the floor well at all times. Showed an ability to hit the mid-range jumper. Has given a verbal commitment to Division II Southern New Hampshire.
Naomi Van Nes (6-4 forward) Ct. Hornets/Hamden Hall Country Day School: A big youngster who moves well and is a presence on both ends of the floor. Fundamentally sound. Rebounds and keeps the ball high. Only a rising sophomore, played up two levels here. Most definitely Division I potential.
Janelle Harrison (6-0 forward) Ct. Cobras/Cromwell H.S.: An athletic, quick player who can get to the basket off the dribble and has enough size to finish against contact. Can also post up and has decent moves with her back to the basket. Very versatile, skilled player for her size.
Deanna Thomas (5-5 guard) Firm AC/Nanticoke H.S.: A true wing playe, an excellent scorer who finds space to shoot and consistently converts from three-point territory. Handles the ball well enough to create own shot. Being recruited by some D-II and D-III level college programs.
Breahandah Stratton (6-0 guard) City Rocks/Albany Leadership School: Can shoot from long range. Plays with a real sense of urgency. Has a quick cross-over move that enables her to get to the basket and finish. Reads the defense well when she has the ball. Excellent court IQ. Committed to Providence.
Saah Veilleux (6-0 guard/forward) Ct. Cobras/Rham H.S.: Plays effectively on the block, but also versatile enough to get out on the perimeter and do a small-forward’s work. Very athletic and quick player. Showed ability to regularly hit the mid-range jumper. Finds ways to score on the offensive end. Projects as a low-Div. I player.
Merrick Rowland (5-7 guard) Saratoga Sparks/Shaker H.S.: A left-handed guard who can shoot out to three-point range. When she puts the ball on the floor she can get to the rim with ease. Decent-enough handle that gets past nearly any defensive pressure situation. Projects as D-II player.
Mariah Ruff (5-8 point guard) City Rocks/Oneonta H.S.: Outstanding point guard. Great decision-maker, both in full or half court. Plays under control. Handles pressure with ease. Can get to the rim when she needs to do that. A pass-first point guard who will take open shot when it’s there. Hit pressure free throws here with games on the line. Committed to St. Bonaventure.
Cassidy Bundy (6-2 center/forward) Ct. Storm Premier/Montville H.S.: A real force in the paint. Uses her size well. Rebounds on both ends. Controls the game in the paint. She alters and blocks shots when on defense. Long arms and uses that length to intimidate shooters. Projects as D-II player.
Shea McCortney (5-5 guard) Elimira Lady Express/Lansing H.S.: An extremely quick guard. Plays aggressively at both ends of the court. Will drive to the hoop fearlessly, but also stay on the perimeter and hit the three-pointer. Steals the ball on defense and finishes at the other end. Projects as a D-II player.
Sheridan Heine (5-10 small forward) Elmira Lady Express/Notre Dame H.S.: An athlete who sees and runs the floor. She will push the ball and pass it ahead to open teammates. Good high-low passer to teammates closer to the rim. Has good finishing moves to the hoop. Gets her share of defensive steals. Projects as D-II player.
Jen Shelp (5-8 forward) Elmira Lady Express/Vestal H.S.: Very good athlete and uses that athleticism well. Good body control and a smooth overall game. Can hit the long-range three-pointer. Can alter and block shots. Very nice all-around player, a coach’s dream. Projects as D-II and, possibly, a D-I player.
Desiree Elmore (5-11 power forward) Ct. Basketball Club/Capital Prep: Has a nice finger-roll move and is a smooth finisher. Rebounds well, always seems to be around the ball. Drives to the hoop and steps by defenders is seemingly stopped. Very aggressive player, but will pass to open teammates if stopped. Projects as mid-to-high D-I player.
Shannon Ryan (6-4 center) Lake Champlain Lakers/Beekmantown Central H.S.: A true center. Uses size to block and alter shots. Runs floor well for her size. Knows how to get position in the paint. Scores well and gets it done around the paint. Still developing, tremendous upside. High-major college player, hearing from Louisville, Big East teams and many others.
Abby Kelly (5-8 guard) Lake Champlain Lakers/Salmon River H.S.: Aggressive guard who attacks the paint. She can pass as well as shoot, and she can shoot the long three-pointer. If stopped will pull up for mid-range shot. Will also finish on the drive against contact. Solid player. Projects to the D-III level.
Rylie Mainville (6-2 center) Lake Champlain Lakers/The Taft School: Athletic forward who runs the floor extremely well for her size. Has a flow to her game. Can finish in the paint. Works well inside. Good rebounder and effectively converts put-backs. Projects to be low D-I or D-II player.
Margot Hetzke (5-11 power forward) Crystal City Stars/Penfield H.S.: A player that plays with composure. Active on the floor, always directing teammates and helping them at both ends. Strong, solid build and uses her size both inside and out. Can hurt opponents in the paint and has range out to the three-point line. Also distributes the ball very well when not open. Has given a verbal to Siena.
Noel Hodges (5-9 guard) L.I. Lightning/Southampton H.S.: She is a very patient player who thinks about each move ahead of time, it seems. Has both an outside game as well as being able to turn it on and get to the hole. Able to create her own shot often. Not only active offensively, but also on the defensive end. When the ball goes up, she is always looking for someone to box out. Has heard fro Assumption, Slippery Rock, Brandice.
Kierona Monton (6-0 center/forward) N.J. Sparks-Red/Passaic County Tech Institute: A good-sized front-court player who catches everything thrown in her direction. She is athletic and has a high motor. Very aggressive playe in the paint and showed the ability to finish around the hoop. Projects as D-II, low-D-I player.
Corinne Poitevien (6-1 power forward) N.J. Sparks-Red/Paramus Catholic H.S.: A strong, physical player who already has a college-sized body. Very good high-low passer with nice passing touch. Looks to score, and is good at it. Very effective in the paint, particularly on the offensive end.
Hannah Hutchins (6-3 center) Ct. Storm Premier/Ledyard H.S.: Very good hands, catches balls thrown away from her. Runs the floor hard at all times. Uses height and long arms to really be a presence inside. Also a good rebounder, goes after missed shots with authority. Projects to be at least a D-II player.
Araion Bradshaw (5-7 guard) Boston Showstoppers/Tabor Academy: Extremely quick guard who uses that ability well, particularly on the offensive end. Uses quickness and athleticism to take it to the hoop hard and finish in traffic. Amazingly quick first step. Truly explosive with the ball in her hands. Projects to be at least mid-major D-I player.
Jalissa Ross (6-3 center) Boston Showstoppers/Fenway H.S.: A real hard worker at both ends. Has good elevation, really gets up. Outstanding rebounder and gets her share of put-backs. Runs the floor, has ability to catch and finish on the break. Favors a nice turn-around move in the paint, near the hoop. Projects to be low-to-mid D-I player.
Deserai Vasquez (5-5 point guard) Garden State Sharp Shooters-Blue/Bayonne H.S.: Has a good handle, and uses it to attack. Likes to use the inside-out, cross-over to get past defenders. Sees the floor well. Pushes the ball up court and passes ahead. A team player who can and looks to feed the post. Projects to be D-III player.
Carli Wilson (5-11 guard) United N.J. Navy/Hunterdon Central Regional H.S.: A 3-point shooter who can also post up smaller guards. Runs the floor well on both ends. Has long-range ability, but also showed a nice mid-range pull-up jumper. Plays hard and with heart. Hearing from Adelphi, Pace and NE 10’s.
Amber Jones (5-5 guard) Westchester Hoopers/Manhattan Center Science & Math: Very fast running the floor. Drives to the hoop and finishes well in traffic. Very aggressive on the defensive end, often getting steals and going the other way to finish. Can score in a variety of ways. Projects as mid-major D-I player.
Brianna Mann (5-11 guard/forward) Westchester Hoopers/Notre Dame Catholic H.S.: Has long-range shooting ability, well beyond the three-point line. Can also score by getting into the paint. She has a good-enough handle to go past defenders and get inside. Will kick out to open teammates, or hit the shot from a kick-out. Projects as low D-I player.
Rachel Gatner (5-9 point guard) Ct. Wescon Fillies/Danbury H.S.: Lefty point guard who sees the floor extremely well. Very good handle. Sees teammates in transition, good court vision. Creates her own shot, a step-back or mid-range jumper off dribble. Finishes in traffic with contact. Gets to rim with crafty moves. Sets up teammates. Shoots deep 3’s. Hearing from Fairfield, Vermont, Central Conn.
Dorothy O’Neill (5-4 point guard) NYC Heat/St. John Villa H.S.: Constant hustler, runs floor well. Finds teammates in transition. Can knock down deep 3’s. Good mid-range jumper, step-back jumper. Great quickness, always pressuring the ball and causes turnovers. Solid handle, combo moves. Can break pressure quickly. Hearing mostly from D-II schools.
Geena Rosalbo (5-4 point guard) NYC Heat/Curtis H.S.: Aggressive, quick point guard who breaks traps and pressure with ease. Good shooter, and hits contested shots. Scrappy with quick hands. Always hustling after the ball. Runs the team, sets up teammates. Good court vision. Communicates with teammates. Hearing from smaller D-I’s, D-II’s.
Mary Patterson (5-7 guard) Albany Capitals Elite/Troy H.S.: Aggressive player who dives for loose balls. Can get into the lane and score. Rebounds on both ends of the court. Can dribble coast to coast. Good shooter who has 3-point range. Hearing from several MAAC schools, and some lower D-I programs.
Kristen McLaughlin (5-11 wing) Hudson Valley Elite/Tappen Zee H.S.: Long, active wing who pressues the ball well and causes turnovers with her length. Hits contested 3’s, also consistent mid-range jumper. Takes the ball coast to coast. Rebounds well and is active hustling for loose balls. Still needs to add strength/muscle. Rhode Island, Towson, most MAAC schools, along with some Patriots are involved.
Izzy McMahon (5-4 pint guard) Hudson Valley Elite/Saddle River Day: Terrific ball-handler. Really runs the team, a floor general/director on the court. Quick cross-over move and great mid-range jumper. Can finish in the lane. Adept at finding open teammates and delivering good passes. Smaller D-I’s showing interest.
Joanna Dobrovosky (6-2 forward) Unity Wildcats/Skaneatles H.S.: A physical post player who who is not afraid of contact. Rebounds well on both ends. Works hard for position in the post. Needs only a little more strength to dominate. Brings high energy to her team. Mid-range game is developing. Hearing from Siena, Canisius and other MAAC schools.
Anna Ross (5-8 point guard) Unity Wildcats/Westhill H.S.: Gets into the paint and finishes. Great cross-over move to get into the lane. Pressures on defense, works hard and creates steals. Finds her teammates with sharp passes. Keeps head up in transition. Not afraid of driving and contact. Interest from most MAAC schools, Penn, Lehigh, LeMoyne.
Arn McCoylan (6-1 wing) New York Gauchos/Molloy H.S.: Gets to the basket with ease with a quick rip and first step. Long and athletic. Has great footwork. Can put up pints in bunches. Blocks shots and disrupts and alters shots on defense. Can shoot the 3, or rip into pull-up or finish at the rim. Great passer once in lane, finds open teammates. Only a rising junior, great upside. Hearing from Louisville, St. John’s, other high D-I’s.
Nyasha Arizany (5-9 point guard) New York Gauchos/Molloy H.S.: Very good at finding teammates and running the offense. Gets into the lane easily and finishes. Cuts to get open and moves well without the ball. Aggressive player who plays with a lot of emotion. Pressures full court and gets steals. Hearing from Quinnipiac and other mid-major D-I’s.
Collins Scarborough (6-0 small forward) New York Gauchos/Christ The King: Very athletic post player. Finishes against contact. Cuts to open areas, moves so teammates can find her. Great at rebounding and finishing when fouled. Can block shots with athleticism. Can also take a rebound coas to coast. Many D-I looks.
Deidra Newsome (5-9 wing) North Shore Bobcats/Lynn English H.S.: Athletic player and aggressive going for steals. Made clutch long-range 3’s here that kept her team in games. Rebounds well and can bring the ball the entire length of the court. Good driving into lane. Aggressive player. Hearing from D-II’s/D-III’s.
Amelia Harris (5-7 guard) New York Golden Eagles/Washingtonville H.S.: Outstanding slasher, gets to the paint and finishes. Able to get past defenders with quick handle, and finds teammates. Her defensive pressure causes many steals. Active communicator on the court. Will rebound and convert put-backs. Shot still developing. Committed to Virginia State Univ.
Nicole Riddick (5-11 post) Albany Capitals/Colonie H.S.: Very athletic post player who can slash into the paint effectively. Long and athletic defender who blocks shots. Great rebounder, uses her body well. Finishes well at the rim and can finish in traffic. Projects as low-level D-I player, but could go higher if jump shot develops.
Lauren “Boogie” Brozoski (5-5 point guard) L.I. Lightning-Slater/Long Island Lutheran: Explosive point guard with a great handle. Showed a nice pull-up jumper and the ability to slash to the rim. Very skilled player, a scoring point guard that can create well and passes well to teammates. Dangerous in transition, great court vision. Projects as high D-I player.
Taylor Byrne (6-2 power forward) L.I. Lightning-Slater/Long Island Lutheran: Great hands, catches everything thrown to her. Finishes well, but if she misses she’s going after the rebound. Aggressive on defense. Agile for her size, moves well. Dominates boards at both ends. Runs hard and finishes in transition. Aggressive on defense. Leads top of full-court press, gets deflections.
Tiana Carter (6-2 post) Maine Wave/Lake Rebion H.S.: Slender, very athletic inside player. Has a great touch inside. Finishes well. Has a quick jump, gets uup and gets rebounds in traffic. Really works the offensive boards. Has great hands. Solid post moves. Nice shooting touch in the paint. Hearing from UAlbany, Maine, New Hampshire and other mid-majors.
Shania Stamper (5-6 guard) Baltimore Starz/Edgewood H.S.: Deceptively explosive, particularly in transition game. Has great court vision. Really pushes the tempo. Has decent shooting range, but better getting her own points off the dribble. Very scrappy player on defense, gets her hands on many loose balls. MEAC, Patriots and other mid-majors showing interest.
Meagan Eripet (6-3 center) Lehigh Valley Fever/Salisbury H.S: Has great hands, catches passes and, then, finishes well around the basket. Goodo height, and uses it to clean the glass on both ends. Adept at making a deep seal in the post. Disruptive on defense in the paint. Hering from mid-majors, including many Patriots.
Lexi Schecter (6-0 post) NELP/Lowell H.S.: Playing up, only a rising sophomore. Works hard in post for touches. Aggressive player on the boards who rebounds well. Very high motor at both ends of the court. Has a good touch around the basket. Effective playing against older players, much upside.
Elemey Colome (5-9 guard) VBC Cast Gold/Proctor Academy: Very athletic, good sized guard. Great work off the dribble. Quick first step to get to hoop or pull up nicely. Solid defender, particularly in the passing lanes. Has real range, beyond the 3-point stripe. High major player, hearing from Syracuse, Rutgers, Temple and Northeastern.
Mei Lyn Bautista (5-6 point guard) NYC Heat-White/St. Mary’s H.S.: A lightning-quick point guard. She has a great handle, and uses it go tet into position to create for teammates. Great moves off the dribble, tough for defenders to stay with. Can hit the 3-pointer, or drive past defenders. Projects as D-II player.
Jordan Agustus (6-0 forward) NYC Heat-White/St. Mary’s H.S.: Extremely athletic playe. Great defender, long and uses length to block shots. Has solid post moves and a great shooting touch around the basket. Can handle in transition, leads the break at times. Great rebounder. Has a mid-range jumper. Projects as D-I player.
Blair Watson (5-11 wing) Garden State Sharp Shooters/Nutley H.S.: Extremely athletic and still-developing talent. Solid shooter, out to 3-point line. Handles and attacks well in transition. Good defender, particularly in the post. Gets her share of deflections. Strong rebounder on both ends. Projects as D-II, low-D-I player.
Stella Johnson (5-8 guard) Garden State Sharp Shooters/Morris Catholic H.S.: Very quick and explosive off-guard. Gets her hands on loose balls, a real hustler on the defensive end. Very aggressive defender on and off the ball. Gets steals and makes opponents uncomfortable. Finishes well in transition.
Jordan Beers (5-7 point guard) STNY Flyers/Franklin H.S.: Very composed player. Nothing fancy, just good straight fundamental play. She made her team better when she was on the floor. Sees the floor very well. Willingly distributes to teammates. Plays tough at all times. Fund guard to watch. Projects as D-III player.
Sandi Purcell (5-4 point guard) Rivals Blue/Alvirne H.S.: A true point guard who does a great job of finding her teammates. Has the ability to shoot standing still or off the dribble. Great dribble pull-up jumper. She is tenacious on the defensive end, hustles for every play on every possession. Can create her own shot. Being recruited by D-II’s.
Jaylen Williams (6-3 center) Rivals-White/Archbishop Williams H.S.: Similar game to UConn star Breanna Stewart. Plays not only in the post, but also can go out to perimeter and shoot the 3. Quality shot-blocker. A rising junior with tremendous potential. She can give the ball four good dribbles from the outside to get to the rim effectively. Has given a verbal to Penn State.
Davida Dale (5-11 wing) Rivals-White/La Salle Academy: A tremdous athlete. She can get to the hole whenever she wants. Can create her own shots, has legit handle. Not only good offensively, she is a tenacious defender. Got four steals within minutes on press in one game. Could be a game-changer for a program. Strong interest from Providence.
Nikki Hayner (5-11 guard) Rivals-White/Bishop Guertin H.S.: Ray Allen-like shooting ability. A lights-out shooter. Made at least one trey in every game here, including 4-of-6 in one contest. Just a pure shooter, but she can also shoot off the dribble. Can’t be left alone, or she’ll connect. Works hard at both ends of the court. Indicated that she’ll go prep school route.
Infiniti Thomas-Waheed (5-11 wing) Rivals-White/Newton North H.S.: Tremendous athlete who can get to the hole at will. Has the ability to create her own shot. She can shoot from all over the floor. Extremely explosive offensively. When she wants to get to the rim, she gets there. Also a strong defender, gets in your face, jumps into passing lanes and creates turnovers. Niagara, Bentley showing interest.
Sierra DeCosta (5-8 point guard) Mid-Atlantic Heat/Bishop McDevitt H.S.: Only a rising sophomore and plays far beyond her years. A phenomenal ball-handler. Explosive player at both ends of the court. She already knows how to make her teammates better, and does so. Slices the gap and finds open teammates. Projects as eventual D-I player.
Kiana Ye (5-6 guard) Mid-Atlantic Heat/Paul VI H.S.: A pure shooter, really lihts out from the 3-point line. But she can also get to the rim and she explodes into the paint. Don’t dare leave her open … she will hit it every time she sees daylight. Plays with great intensity. Always seems to be in the middle of plays. Leaning toward NYU, but many other schools looking, including D-I’s.
16:U ALL GYMRAT CHALLENGE HONORABLE MENTION
Jamie Mickiewicz (6-0 post) Basketball Shoppe
Victoria Carduci (5-7 guard) Central Jersey Hawks
Tanner Turner-Rush (5-9 guard) Mid-Atlantic Heat
Jamie Sherburne (5-7 point guard) Rivals-White
Mairaed Hynes (5-11 center) WBA Lady Knicks-Black
Kristen Gguila (5-8 guard) L.I. Lightning
Jamie Hill (5-9 guard) Ct. Cobras
Kayla Gibbs (6-0 power forward) N.J. Sparks
Shaquana Edwards (5-4 guard) Ct. Basketball Club/Capital Prep
Dawn Dyer-Martin (5-7 forward) CAS Panthers-Purple
Myra Lattimore (5-8 guard) STNY Flyers
Lydia Caputi (5-7 guard) Maine Wave
Sara Kourtesis (6-0 power forward) Rivals-Blue
Lames ElGammal (6-0 forward) L.I. Lightning-Slater
Michelle Fitzgerald (6-0 forward) Baltimore Starz
Emily McPadden (5-9 guard) NELP
Julianne Wilkinson (5-6 point guard) Triple Threat Elite
Joiaday Darnell (6-0 forward) L.I. Panthers
Morgan Barther (6-0 forward) Garden State Sharp Shooters
Nia Mims (5-11 guard) Lehigh Valley Fever
Nicole Curley (6-0 forward) Kingston Vipers
Emily Curley (6-0 forward) Kingston Vipers
Talah Hughes (6-0 forward) Triple Threat Elite
Nina Bartlette (6-0 forward) Boston Sharks
Erin Storck (5-7 guard) L.I. Lightning-Slater
Olivia DelGrosso (5-8 guard) Ct. Storm Unted
Emily Ilerena (5-10 guard) Westchester Hoopers
Courtney Adams (6-2 center) Center) United N.J. Navy
Kendra Hicks (5-9 forward) CAS Panthers
Morgan Belanger 96-2 center) CAS Panthers
Katia oge (6-2 center) N.J. Sparks Pink
Yasmine Bacote (6-0 forward) N.J. Sparks Pink
Nia Adams (5-10 forward) N.J. Sparks Pink
Taylor Brown (6-0 forward) N.J. Sparks Pink
Kayla Diaz (5-6 point guard) N.J. Sparks Pink
Nyree Grant (6-0 forward) N.J. Sparks Pink
Alyssa Chipelo (5-6 point guard) Hudson River Hornets
Theresa Swanke (6-0 post) Ct. Starters Red
Alexis Brown (5-5 point guard) Ct. Starters Red
Casey Sullivan (5-11 forward) Ct. Starters Red
Cloe Brinton (5-7 guard) Ct. Starters Red
Alusua Lacey (5-10 forward) Game On Lady Lions
McKayla Roberts (5-4 point guard) Unity Wildcats
Tina Hoag (5-7 guard) Unity Wildcats
Chelsea Woods (5-10 forward) Philly Freedom Stars
Chanelle Perry (5-9 forward) Philly Freedom Stars
Sajanna Bethea (6-0 forward) Philly Freedom Stars
Erin Garner (6-3 center) Philly Freedom Stars
Emmanuella Canada (6-1 forward) City Rocks
Chyanna Canada (6-1 forward) City Rocks
Hannah Friend (6-0 forward) City Rocks
Shyla Osmond (5-4 guard) Ct. Basketball Club
Jonte Bracewell (5-11 guard/forward) United N.J.-White
Alexandra Raulf (5-10 power forward) United N.J.-White
Asjha White-Silas (5-10 guard) Westchester Hoopsters
Taylor Warnum (5-11 post) Bay State Magic Elite
Kelsey Clemens (6-0 forward) Ct. Starters Red
Carly Fabbri (5-9 guard) Hudson Valley Elite
Madison Beck (6-0 forward) Unity Wildcats
Laura Castaldo (5-9 wing) Hudson Valley Elite
Danielle Leguillou (5-4 guard) NYC Heat
Lauren Betman (6-0 wing) Unity Wildcats
Alyssa Guyon (5-10 small forward) Ct. Wave
Essence Casey (5-8 wing) Long Island Renegades
Chelsea Crawford (6-0 small forward) N.Y. Golden Eagles
Lizzy Atkinson (5-7 point guard) L.I. Renegades
Anna Walther (point guard) Mass Frenzy Black
Austin Stevens (5-8 guard) Unity Wildcats
Julia Gnieser (5-6 guard) L.I. Renegades
Hannah Metcalf (5-7 guard) Ct. Wescon Fillies
Rebecca Gartner (5-9 guard) Ct. Wescon Fillies
Kiana Patterson (5-6 guard) Albany Capitals
Katie Anderson (5-5 guard) Bay State Magic Elite
Madison Shea (5-6 guard) Saratoga Sparks
Ashlie Howell (5-6 guard) N.Y. Lightning-Dingle
Kaila DeFrancesco (5-7 guard) Ct. Hornets
Victoria Prior (5-5 guard) Baseline elite
Caitlyn Riley (5-6 guard) Cardinal Elite
Brianne Laplume (5-10 forward) MT Elite
Cierra Dillard 95-9 forward) City Rocks
Chyanna Canada (6-1 forward) City Rocks
Madison Betrice (5-4 guard) Basketball 2 The Limit
Jowtay Walton (5-7 point guardO Crystal City Stars
Jessica Kovatch (5-8 guard) United N.J.
Maura Hamilton (6-0 center) United N.J.
Shainu Iton (6-0 center) Westchester Hoops
Jessa Rubera (5-4 point guard) Bay State Jaguars
Adrianna Decicco (5-11 forward) Triple Threat-N.Y.
Jaszala Laracuente (5-5 point guard) Sting Elite
15:U GYMRAT CHALLENGE AGE DIVISION
PREMIER HEEDS LESSONS, BRING FIRST TITLE TO ROCHESTER
SCHENECTADY-The Rochester, N.Y., area is fertile territory in terms of producing good girls’ basketball players, and the area regularly sends players on to the Division I level at a robust annual rate.
Yet, a wealth of solid AAU programs throughout the community often has thinned out the talent level for those teams, and no squad based there had ever captured a GymRat CHALLENGE championship before.
That changed this year as the Rochester Premier squad that played at the 15-under level of the GymRat tournament this season managed to attract enough high quality performers to capture the event’s prestigious age-bracket championship.
The Premier’s 42-39 victory over the WNY Lady Lakers in Sunday’s championship contest at Schenectady High School’s Pat Riley Sports Center is believed to be the first GymRat title earned by a Rochester-based team at any level in the tournament’s nine-year history.
The result not only broke the proverbial ice for teams from the Flower City, but also validates the demanding defensive style program coach Tim Jackson requires from his players.
“We trailed by 14 points in one of the early games and we fought back,” said Jackson. “We did it with defense. We demand that the girls play defense and work hard at this. I’ll be honest … I’m not an easy coach to play for, and our program has lost a couple of kids who felt what we try to do is too tough.
“But, I told the girls that have stuck it out that they’ll be better for it. What we do is a metaphor for life. They’re going to face some tough times in their lives at some point. If they face some tough times in basketball, and persevere and get through them, then they’re better prepared for what they’ll face off the court.”
And, now, the team knows that what Jackson demands from them actually works.
“We’ve lost in four or five tournaments we played earlier this year,” Jackson said. “But when we were down by 14 in that early-round game here, we pulled the girls together to say this is why we work as hard as we work, to deal for situations like this. The kids came through with a total team effort. It’s a testament to them, finally, buying in to what we try to do.
“We’re not all the way yet, but we’re getting close and what we did here, hopefully, reinforces to the girls exactly what we’re trying to do and why we’re doing it. Now, when we push them to work a little harder … they’ll listen to us.”
The Rochester squad needed every bit of the type intestinal fortitude, strong defense and mental toughness it could muster on the second day of tournament play here.
It breezed through its three pool-round games, winning by an average of more than 17 points per contest. But, in the championship bracket it had to squeeze out three victories by just three points each and a fourth by four points.
And, that’s when the Premier’s Candaisy Crawford, a multi-talented 5-foot-8 guard, was at her best. Crawford, the age division’s MVG (Most Valuable GymRat) only averaged 11 points per game in the three early games, but picked it up to average 16.3 points per contest in the four championship bracket contests.
“She really led the way from a leadership and effort standpoint,” said Jackson, about Crawford. “She took over in the semifinal-round game to help us move on. But, everyone here for us played well. It was a total team effort.”
And, maybe more importantly, it was a team effort in terms of doing the tough things demanded of them by their coach.
15:U AGE DIVISION MVG (MOST VALUABLE GYMRAT)
Candaisy Crawford (5-8 guad) Rochester Premier/Webster Thomas H.S.: A very good ball-handler, particularly under pressure. She can get to the basket at will, as well as hit the outside shot. A complete player. Very good free-throw shooter who makes them in big spots. She made 12 in a three-point victory in the semifinal round. Just a clutch player who led her team to the age division’s championship while averaging 14 points over seven games here.
15:U AGE DIVISION ALL GYMRAT CHALLENGE
Abby O’Keefe (5-7 guard) Western N.Y. Lakers/Harley-Allendale Columbia H.S.: A solid player on both ends of the floor. A very efficient scorer. She has a great mid-range jumper, yet also finishes strongly against contact when getting to the basket. Scored from all over. She averaged 13.8 points per game in six games and shot better than 50 percent from the field.
Kendra Landy (5-8 guard) Ct. Cobras/Mercy H.S.: A big point guard, uses her height well to see over defenses. Can really handle the ball. Can also cause problems on the defensive end with he length, gets deflections and steals. Very unselfish player with solid all-around skills.
Julia Michael Winnick (5-5 point guard) L.I. Lightning-Dingle/NYC Lab School: A true heads-up point guard who is very busy at both ends of the court. Showed 3-point range, but doesn’t need to score points to have an effect on games. She can penetrate to the basket, draw defenders and dish to open teammates.
Kelly Donnelly (5-10 small forward) Averill Park Lady Raptors/Averill Park H.S.: She runs the floor very well and finds a variety of ways to be productive on the offensive end. Scores in transition and can also hit the open shot. Very active defender. Good length already, and uses it well at both ends. She averaged 15.3 points in three games here.
Cameron Graupman (5-7 forward) WNY Lady Lakers/Hilton H.S.: A prototypical “point forward.” She handles the ball like a point guard from the forward position. She can see the floor well in transition and delivers good passes to open teammates. Also showed herself to be a threat with her outside shot.
Samantha Krumbhaar (5-6 guard) Maryland Lady Comets/North Country H.S.: Very good outside shooter … a real threat on the offensive end. But, she can also handle the ball well enough to play at the point. Very good on-the-ball defender. She averaged 12 points per game in three games here.
Juliette Gauthier (6-0 forward) Pantheres de Rosemere: A more-than-adequate ball-handler for her size. She can see the floor and find open teammates, particularly in transition. Very versatile, multi-skilled player. Uses her size on the perimeter to shoot over smaller players effectively.
Abby White (5-3 guard) WNY Lakers/Irondequoit H.S.: Has a great stroke from the outside. Deadly shooter from the 3-point line. Can also handle the ball under pressure, but mostly a real scoring threat. She plays within herself, very under control. Lets the game come to her. Made eight 3’s in six games here.
Olivia Canning (6-2 center) Mass Huskies/Lincoln-Sudbury H.S.: Makes a statement on defense by blocking and altering shots. Already has good size. Can really finish around the basket. Shows flashes of what she can do on offense. Presents a target in the post. Is willing to set screens to free up teammates. Nice potential.
Kristen Ngan (5-8 point guard) Mass Huskies/Lincoln-Sudbury: A truly heady point guard who really runs the show. A left-hander who can hit the perimeter shot. Also displayed a nice hesitation dribble that she used to create room to shoot or to get past defenders. Doesn’t have to score to be effective.
Abbie Wolf (6-3 center) USAD Sparks/Greenwich H.S.: A tall inside player who doesn’t just rely on her size to contribute. She is fundamentally sound. Will box out to be an effective rebounder. Long arms who uses them to defend well and block shots. Exhibited a decent touch around the basket.
Natalia Baum (5-6 point guard) Ct. Wave/Wiliston Northampton School: A sound defensive player with quick hands. She comes up with more than her share of steals. Good help defender. She gets to the basket off the dribble and is creative around the hoop. Draws fouls. Will drive and dish and can finish at the hoop. Also scores in transition.
Catie Lipscomb (5-7 guard) Ct. Wave/West Springfield H.S.: A very capable perimeter shooter with range beyond the 3-point stripe. Also moves the ball nicely on offense. Unselfish player. Will make the pass that leads to an easy score for a teammate. Good defensive anticipation enables her to get deflections, steals.
Adrianne Jones (5-8 wing) Baltimore Starz/MATHS: She can really score points in a hurry. She scored an average of 15.7 points in three games, connecting on 61.3 percent of her shots from the floor. Gets to the basket, yet also showed a mid-range jump shot. Also had effective use of a nice hesitation dribble.
Morgan Birmelin (5-6 guard) J.B. Hoops Show/Honesdale H.S.: A superb defender, really disruptive on the defensive end, using anticipation and smarts. Converts steals into easy baskets. Has a nose for the ball. Can play the point, too. Will drive and dish. Can get to the hoop and finish. Nice handle and showed an effective spin dribble.
Ashley Berube (6-0 center) Rivals/Londonberry H.S.: A rebounding machine in play here. She is just relentless on the boards, goes after everything. Not afraid to mix it up to go rebound in a crowd. Has good size. Also, capable scorer in the paint. Strong build and posts up well. She uses either hand to finish inside.
Rebecca Ripley (5-9 forward) Rivals/New Hampton School: Young player with great potential. Gets to the hoop off the dribble. Accelerates nicely as she goes through the lane. Goes hard to the hoop. Can finish with her off hand. Very strong. Nice cross-over dribble move. Definitely looks like she’ll be a special player.
Natasja Johnston (5-11 forward) Saratoga Sparks/Columbia H.S.: Very athletic player who is fast and has quickness. Very good moves to the hoop, using long strides to get there and draws fouls. Rebounds well. Already good size. She can post up and score. Looks to have nice potential.
Nicole Conley (5-11 forward) Saratoga Sparks/Scotia Glenville H.S.: A long player with good potential. Decent athlete who runs the court at all times. Can hit the mid-range jumper from both the wing and the baseline. Will block shots and go get the ball off the boards. Needs only to add a little strength to be more effective.
Claire Johnson (6-1 center) N.J. Panthers/Morris Catholic H.S.: Has a major impact on the defensive end. Uses length to block shots with authority. Has nice hands. Showed a nice touch at the foul line. Good passer from the post. Displayed an effective baby hook shot. Needs only to get a little stronger and develop more on offense.
Tara Berger (6-1 forward) WBA Lady Knicks-Black/Rye Country Day School: A long player with versatility who contributes in many ways. She rebounds very well, goes out of area to get rebounds that don’t come directly to her. Defends the lane effectively. She will also step out and take a medium-range jumper, or fake and go to the hoop.
Taylor Choate (5-6 guard) Rivals-Gray/Nashua H.S.: Very quick to the hoop. Uses effective dribble moves and a quick first step to get into the lane. Unselfish, she will drive and dish. Distributes the ball in a manner that makes others around her better. Very disruptive on defense. Has quick hands and gets steals, deflections.
Jaycee Volkman (4-11 point guard) Anaconda All Stars/Ichabod Crane H.S.: A diminutive guard who still finds ways to score points. She averaged 12 points over three games here. She can get to the hoop or shoot from the perimeter … she made eight 3’s here. Just finds a way to score. Good ball-handler. Very valuable member of her team.
Jariah Johnson (5-9 wing) CAS Panthers/Frederick Douglas Academy: Very athletic scorer, a scoring machine. She averaged 14.5 points in four games here. Will challenge bigger players. Gets to the hoop off the dribble, can hit the floater. A lefty who also hits perimeter shots when open. Rebounds well for her size. Quick to the ball. Pittsburgh has shown early interest.
Shalix Hines (5-3 point guard) CAS Panthers/Nazareth H.S.: A real pass-first point guard. She enjoys distributing the ball. Great court vision. Breaks down the defense and hits her open teammates. Very unselfish. Quick player. She can also hit the 3. Nice cross-over dribble move into her jump shot. Entertaining to watch.
Amanda Pfohl (5-9 guard) CBC Basketball/Trumbull H.S.: A big guard who runs the floor well for her size. Quick release 3-pointer, catch and shoot. Drops shoulder and attacks the hoop from perimeter and high post. Worker and good basketball IQ. She can get hot from beyond the arc. Uses her size to advantage on defense. Hearing from Horstra, Central Conn. State and Assumption.
Taylor Ceballos (6-0 forward) CBC Basketball/Foran H.S.: Physically strong, especially for her age. Good touch around the hoop. Works hard on both ends of the floor. Keep an eye on her development. Active on the boards and can handle the contact to box out. Good variety of inside moves. Very effective player.
Sierra Dacosta (5-9 guard) Mid Atlantic Heat/Bishop McDevitt H.S.: Aggressive scorer who is always looking to attack the basket. Gets by the defense with quick first step and combination moves. Reads the defense well. Executes the draw-and-dish game. Effective on the boards, uses her athleticism on both ends. Uses length and lateral movement to force turnovers. Variety of D-I programs interested, including Providence and La Salle.
Ciani Carter (5-7 guard) Mid Atlantic Heat/Sacred Heart H.S.: Very smart player who will nail the 3-pointer and, then, attack the glass. Finds the open player. Unselfish. Works hard at both ends. Effective in trapping defense. Advances the ball with both passes and dribbling. Exhibited a nice touch around the hoop. Vermont and Rider showing interest so far.
McKenna Maycock (5-8 guard) Jamestown Elite/Randolph H.S.: Epitome of a basketball player. She can run all day. Explosive, good speed. Has a scorer’s mentality. A lefty with a nice 3-point shot, a good pull-up jumper and the ability to drive and finish in transition. Aggressive on defense. Steals and finishes on other end. Solid court IQ. Quick, smooth release on shot. Variety of attack moves. Crashes offensive boards and boxes on defense. Does the little things. Unselfish and good passes. Hits the floor. Verbal commit to St. Bonaventure.
Jenna Einink (5-10 forward) Jamestown Elite/Chautaugua Lake H.S.: A strongpost player who is effective around the hoop. Has nice drop step and power pivot moves. Attacks the rim from the high post. Excellent footwork, stepping out for 3-pointers. Uses her body well in high-low post game. Boxes out. Strong rebounder and effective with put-backs. Keeps the ball high and draws the and-one. Knows how to attack both man and zone defenses inside.
Olivia Schmidt (5-4 point guard) Jamestown Elite/Holland H.S.: A true point guard who runs the team. Effective in both transition and half court game. Good handle and strong passing skills. Reads the defense well and picks the right time to attack off the dribble, and knows when to look for own offense. Can take and make three pointers.
Gabby Giacone (6-0 forward) Albany Capitals Elite/Bethlehem Central H.S.: Brings the total package. Decent handle for her size in transition and on the perimeter. Scoring threat from 3-point land, off the dribble and with pull-up. Reads the double team. Reads the draw and dish. Deceiving speed north/south in transition. Unselfish. Knows when she needs to step up, and does. She owns the boards. Crashes offensive boards and finishes. She goes to get the ball on defense. Solid back-to-basket game. Excellent court IQ. Siena, UAlbany, Boston College are interested.
Madison Purcell (5-9 forward) Albany Capitals Elite/Catholic Central H.S.: A fundamentally sound player. Moves well without the ball, cuts hard. Good finish around the hoop. Does the little things. Boxes out. Aggressive worker. Has 3-point range. Gets steals and, then, finishes full court. Can attack off the dribble. Low-to-mid D-I player, some interest from Drexel.
Kristen Daley (6-1 guard) Bay State Jaguars/Rivers School: A big guard who can attack off the dribble or nail the 3-pointer. She steps up when her team need it. Very active on the boards. Heads-up passer. Reads the defense and takes advantage of what’s there. High court IQ and skill set. Fluid player, very versatile. Works on both ends of the floor. Multiple D-I schools showing interest.
Justine Gaziano (5-8 guard) Bay State Jaguars/Natick H.S.: An aggressive player who pushes it on both ends of the floor. Uses her athleticism and length to her advantage. A 3-point shooter, a driver and can finish in transition. Nice high release on shot. Good footwork, good passer and unselfish. Can finsh with contact. Reads defene well. Nice reverse layup. Works the boards.
15:U AGE DIVISION GYMRAT HONORABLE MENTION
Ednqija Lassiter (5-9 forward) Boston Show Stoppers
Santita Ebangwese (6-1 post) WNY Lady Lakers
Tiphani Harrisa (5-7 guard) Mass Huskies
Sara Dasilva (5-8 forward) Mass Huskies
Anndrea Lloyd (5-5 guard) South Jersey Elite
Tara Burke (5-11 forward) N.C. Blaze
Camille Menns (5-5 guard) FBC Defenders
Victoria Lux (6-1 center) Maine Firecrackers
Rheanna Maitland (5-11 forward) NY Pride
Jess Camarda (5-7 forward) NY Pride
Ashley Storey (6-2 center) Maine Firecrackers
Carmeecia Bryant (5-2 point guard) South Jersey Elite
Tamara Sellers (5-6 wing) South Jersey Elite
Tatiana Toledo (6-4 center) Pantheres de Rosemere
Karissa Birthwright (6-0 forward) WNY Lakers
Mia Morrison (6-0 forward) Rochester Premier
Asia Macintyre (5-6 guard) Rochester Premier
Olivia Orlando (5-8 guard) Rivals-Grey
Gabby Otto (5-10 forward) Rivals-Black
Isabelle Otto (5-10 forward) Rivals-Black
Courtney Henrick (5-5 guard) Rivals-Black
Miah Andrews (5-7 guard) Rivals-Black
Jocelyn Chaput (5-6 guard) Rivals-Black
Rachel Morris (5-8 guard) Mass Huskies
Gia Mancini (5-7 guard) USAD Sparks
Demi Fogarty (6-2 center) Bay State Blizzard
Jordan Hawkins (6-0 center) Baltimore Starz
Kristy Vitucci (5-6 guard) L.I. Lightning-O’Donnell
Jillian Paulus (5-3 guard) J.B. Hoops Show
Chelsea Murphy (5-7 guard) Hudson Valley Knights
Jancy Sherwood (5-8 guard) Rivals
Janni Coombs (5-9 wing) Rivals
Chelsea Johnson (5-4 guard) Saratoga Sparks
Macie Holmes (5-4 point guard) Saratoga Sparks
Emily Parslow (5-5 guard) Saratoga Sparks
Cory Ransom (5-10 forward) N.J. Panthers
Mackenzie Michaels (5-10 forward) N.J. Panthers
Alexa Moses (5-5 guard) WBA Lady Knicks-Black
Jennifer Howland (5-10 forward) WBA Lady Knicks-Black
Julia Daniel (5-7 forward) Rivals
Raven Brathwaite (6-3 center) Rivals
Alison Thorpe (5-5 guard) New York Golden Eagles
Kymane Jones (5-4 point guard) New York Golden Eagles
Eileen Hurley (6-0 center) Anaconda All Stars
Imani Dawson (6-0 forward) Baltimore Starz
Kelly McMahon (5-4 guard) Ct. Wave
Victoria Schweyher (5-5 guard) N.J. Panthers
Ann Marie DiCarlo (5-6 guard) WBA Lady Knicks-Black
Shaliyah Graham (5-9 forward) CAS Panthers
Jaide Hinds-Clarke (6-1 forward) Hudson Valley Knights
Casey Foley (5-9 guard) Hudson Valley Knights
Nicole Johnson (5-11 wing) Team Freckles
Amani Williams (5-5 guard) Team Freckles
Allieyah Cubbage (5-9 wing) Team Freckles
Ziykara Hicks (5-6 guard) Team Freckles
Sarah O’Neill (5-5 guard) Team Freckles
Haley English (5-6 guard) CBC Basketball
Allie Smith (5-10 forward) CBC Basketball
Eleanor Walesiewicz (5-7 guard) N.J. Lady Titans
Madison McGrath (5-6 guard) Hudson Valley Lady Longshots
Emma Daly (5-10 forward) Hudson Valley Lady Longshots
Chrisanna Green (5-9 forward) Jamestown Elite
Ally Hickey (5-11 wing) Maine Maniacs
Tiana Harriman (5-6 guard) Maine Maniacs
Ayla Tartre (5-8 guard) Maine Firecrackers-Ewald
Chelsea Rairdon (5-11 forward) Maine Firecrackers-Ewald
Annie Rose Darling (5-8 forward) Triple Threat NY Elite Prep
Alexis Fotopoulus (5-6 guard) L.I. Lightning
Alyssa Olson (5-9 forward) L.I. Lightning
Nicole Velez (5-5 point guard) Mid Atlantic Heat
Simone Small (5-8 forward) Mid Atlantic Heat
Morgan Burke (5-10 guard) R.I. Lady Cyclones
Alliyah Gillespie (5-5 guard) Albany Capitals Elite
Olivia Hughes (5-9 forward) Albany Capitals Elite
Jenna Giacone (5-11 center) Albany Capitals Elite
Melissa Rogers (5-2 point guard) Bay State Jaguars
Corinn Baggs (5-8 forward) NYC Heat-Flaherty
14:U GYMRAT CHALLENGE AGE DIVISION
CRUSADERS CLAIM CROWN, BENZEN WINS 2ND MVG AWARD
SARATOGA SPRINGS – The GymRat CHALLENGE girls’ tournament’s championship round of play falls annually on Father’s Day, but Katie Benzan is making a habit of delivering a special gift at the event to her mom.
Katie, a dynamic 5-foot-5 point guard for the New England Crusaders, became the first two-time MVG (Most Valuable GymRat) of the girls’ event in the tournament’s nine-year history when she led her team to one of the most-dominating title-game victories ever seen here, a 50-16 decision over the Bay State Magic on Sunday at the Saratoga Recreation Center.
Both last year, when she played for the 13-under age-bracket champion Bay State Jaguars, and this season. her mom, Kim Benzen, not only had a parent’s pleasure of watching a child succeed, but knowing she had a direct hand in it as her AAU coach.
Kim (Kelley) Benzen is certainly the perfect basketball role model, a former standout point guard at Holy Cross from 1984-1987.
“It helps enormously to have a mom who played the same position, and who coaches me,” said Katie Benzan, a rising sophomore at Noble and Greenough High School. She’s always giving me tips here or there. She knows what I need to do to improve.”
“She’s very much like me when I was a player,” said Kim Benzan. “But, she’s already a much better shooter than I ever was.”
The younger Benzan uses that shooting skill to regularly sink long-range shots when left open. During play here, she also confounded defenses designed to stop her shot by going past defenders and finding open teammates with on-the-money passes.
“I’m just so proud of her,” said Kim Benzan, about her daughter. “She works so hard to be successful.”
Benzan wasn’t alone in her heroics. The Crusaders’ team was so dominant here that it won its six total games by an average 25.4 points and every one by 17 or more points.
“It feels good to be the MVG, but it’s better to see our team have success here,” said Katie Benzan. “What I try to do is get the ball to my teammates in a place on the court where they can do their best.
“It’s definitely very special to be able to play for my mom. I love her so much … she helps me on and off the court.”
It’s a theme that permeates the team.
“There’s a definite closeness on and off the court,” said Kim Benzan. “I’ve coached most of these girls at the AAU program since fifth grade, so for five years now. There’s an unparalleled love and support they have for each other on and off the court.”
But much of what happens begins with the Banzans, with Kim coaching and Katie providing a coach-on-the-floor mentality that comes from more than just genetics.
“She’s an extremely hard worker,” said Kim, about Kaite. “We spend a lot of time together on basketball. She works on basketball every day. And, Fridays are our night. She plays, and then we watch games on TV together and talk about what we see.”
What GymRat fans have seen from the Benzans in the past two years is a mother-daughter combination that has helped mold a dominating team that has two tournament championships together and an unprecedented two MVG awards for Katie Benzan.
And, with two more years of AAU eligibility, there is likely to be more to come.
14:U GymRat CHALLENGE MVG (Most Valuable GymRat)
Katie Benzan (5-5 point guard) New England Crusaders-Benzan/Noble and Greenough H.S.): A real floor general who can also score. Great shooter from long range. Comes off screens looking to shoot and has a quick release. Also a terrific point guard with standout handle and outstanding court vision. Quick cross-over dribble. Draws defenders and dishes to open teammates. Court IQ far above her age level. She was 13-under division’s MVG last year and is the first two-time girls’ top-award winner.
14:U Division All-GymRat CHALLENGE Team
Jaclyn DelliSanti (5’8″ Guard/Sm.Forward) – LI Lightning-DelliSanti/Commack H.S.: Displays great versatility. In the June 2013 GymRat Challenge Tournament, Jackie shot 57% from the field, averaging 25 points per game (including five 3-point shots). Strong inside & outside game and easily goes both left & right to the hoop. Excellent rebounder & defensive player. She has great court awareness & works well with her teammates. Determined & hard working from start to finish.
Venessa Udoji (5-10 small forward) NE Crusaders-Benzan/Northfield Mount Hermon H.S.: Active offensive player who drives the baseline, is a good penetrator, follows her shot and gets put-backs. Outstanding passer who sees open teammates, drives and dishes. Has a mid-range jumper. Very active on defense. Good rebounder, athletic and active at all times.
Nia Irving (6-0 post) Maine Mainiacs-Hancock/Lawrence H.S.: Strong and tough inside, and terrific work ethic. Nice mid-range shot. Strong rebounder. Creates position in side and finishes after the foul. Nice one-dribble pull-up jumper. Followes shots. Makes crisp, hard passes. Standout court vision for a “big,” draws double-team and kicks out to guards.
Kayla Oge (5-9 post) New Jersey GymRatz/Saddle River Day School: Good rebounder who gets it and dribbles coast to coast. Very long and athletic. Strong moves to the basket. Can shoot the mid-range jumper. Drives hard, finishes and gets the “and-one.” Good shot-blocker, very active on the defensive end. Good hands and strong holding on to the ball.
Precious Featherson (5-11 guard) N.J. Sparks Blue/East Side H.S.: Active player who effectively drives to the hoop and can finish with left hand. Crashes balls at all times. Can dribble between legs, behind back … good ball-handler. Can also shoot out to 3-point stripe and gets off shot quickly. Nice pull-up mid-range shot. Feeds the post well. Outstanding foul shooter.
Jasmine Gee (6-1 post) N.J. Sparks Blue/Immaculate Conception H.S.: Strong player who is very effective on pick-and-roll. Runs floor well for size. Gets back on defense every possession. Good one-dribble turn-around jumper. Great screener. Very strong player, knows how to get position … gets defender on her back and becomes a good target for receiving passes. Nice mid-range jumper and uses glass well.
Taylor Glarger (5-8 guard) Ct. Starters/Rham H.S.: Left-hander who is a good 3-point shooter with a quick release. Standout foul shooter. Runs floor well in transition. Pushes the ball up quickly with her head up looking for open teammates. Very nice cross-over dribble move. Also good shot-fake to get defender off balance and, then, drive to the hoop.
Alyssa Torres (5-6 guard) Long Island Lightning-Flynn/St. Anthony’s H.S.: Quick and very active on defense. Has a nice shot-fane-and-drive move and goes to the basket aggressively. Drives hard from baseline, draws fouls. Great left-hand dribble and finishes well with her left hand in traffic. All-out hustle at all times, not afraid to dive on the floor.
Lydia Lawson (5-3 point guard) Firm AC-Elite/Holy Redeemer H.S.: Outstanding point guard, fast and quick. Good footwork. Plays good defense, always gets on the floor for loose balls. Hustles at all times. Great creator. Smart player who runs the floor. Qick cross-over, hesitation-then-drive move. Distributes the ball very well and can also shoot from long range.
Elly Vaughan (6-0 post) Mass Ducks/Milton Academy: Active shot-blocker who had four in one half. Long-armed, active defender who rebounds well and boxes out effectively. Runs the floor well every play. Can shoot the three-pointer. Athletic player. Nice spin move in the post. Made some nice no-look passes here. Reads the floor well from the post. Good foul shooter.
Danielle Robinson (5-8 guard) Team Freckles/Avon Avenue School: Very athletic, long and quick guard. Crashes the boards hard from the perimeter. Great driver, can penetrate zones. Pushes the ball up court. Gets put-backs from crashing boards. Uses length to effectively block shots. A very quick, crafty player.
Kathleen Ryan (6-1 post) WNY Rapids/Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart: Post player that drives like a guard with a nice shot-fake drive. Can also step out and shoot the 3. Dribbles well for her size. Cuts to open spots. Has nice one-dribble pull-up mid-range jumper. Strong with the ball. Waits until defense gets close, then drives around. Great footwork. Active on defense, gets her hands on the ball. Great footwork. Blocks shots and helps on defense.
Destine Perry (5-7 guard) Connecticut Heat/Mercy H.S.: A strong and aggressive guard. She attacks basket well off the dribble with some finesse at times. As passionate on defense as she is on offense. Hustles at all times. She showed a lot of ability to be a playmaker, but needs to work on getting teammates more involved.
Nicole McLellan (5-5 guard) Sting Elite/Bedford H.S.: Outstanding shooter from 3-point range, and not afraid to pull the trigger at any time. Solid defender, particularly strong on helpside defense. Small in stature with a quiet composure that is deceptive. Has strong ability and skill set. Capable of playing either guard spot.
Achol Manyang (6-0 post) City Rocks-Utica/Thomas R. Proctor H.S.: Type of versatile forward that any coach would want. A solid mid-range shooter. “High-hand” defender with the jumping ability to block a lot of shots. Height and long arms makes her a good target for scoring plays. Very scrappy player who really goes after rebounds on both ends of the court.
Ishanna Brown (5-6 guard) Springfield Lady Ballers/Central H.S.: All-out hustle at all times. Finishes well at the rim, in transition, off the pace or off the dribble. Puts in more effort on defense than on offense, but is impressive in work ethic at both ends of the court. Very aggressive going after rebounds, and is effective rebounder for her size.
Sarah Young (6-2 center) Lady Lions/Sacred Heart H.S.: A terrific finisher inside. A smooth, “quiet” scorer. Slender player whose looks bely her scrappy play. Outstanding rebounder, knows how to use her length to get missed shots. Standout back-to-the-basket, post-up moves already. Very solid passer, works high-low game to great effect.
Shalix Hines (5-7 guard) CAS Panthers: Deep-range shooter. Has a lot of confidence not only in her shot, but her overlal game. Solid handle who finishes strong off the dribble, but not with off hand yet. Very animated player, mostly on the offensive end. Needs to work on on-ball defense. Can distribute well off the dribble and has a nice one-hand pass.
Erin Jones (5-11 guard/forward) United N.J./Voorhees H.S.: Outstanding shooter from any place on the court. Leave her open, and she’s going to connect. Long arms makes her effective on the defensive end. Runs floor extremely well in transition. Very versatile player who is effective at both ends. Good leaping ability, and quick off her feet with second jump.
Rebekah Patterson (5-8 guard/forward) R.I. Thunder/Bishop Stang H.S.: Very good mid-range jumper. Could be a little more aggressive on defense, but extremely effective on the offensive end. Likes to distribute as much as she likes to shoot. Most definitely a three-point threat. Very versatile player, most definitely an asset on any team.
Carly Boland (6-0 forward) Albany Capitals/Shenendehowa H.S.: A lon, tall and skilled forward. Tremendous cross-over dribble to get to the basket. Stat-sheet stuffer who helps the team in every category. Rebounds well out of her location. Nice mid-range jumper. Sees the floor and makes good passes. Takes over games in spurts.
Maggie Ahearn (6-1 forward) Bay State Magic/Marshfield H.S.: Strong contributor in every statistical category. Has a solid handle for her size and can get to the basket at will. Unselfish and does a great job of making the right pass. Shows good timing on blocking shots. Dangerous mid-range shooter. Very versatile. Can play all five positions effectively.
Tyler Miller (6-1 post) Bay State Magic/Falmouth H.S.: Strong and physical post that shows good footwork. Rebounds well in her area and always boxes out. Relentless on offensive glass. Great job of establishing position on low block. Tremendous motor all game long. Range out to 15-feet. Protects the basket well and is an effective shot-blocker.
14:U Division GymRat CHALLENGE HONOREABLE MENTION
Olivia Ware (5-10 post) NE Crusaders-Benzan
Caroline Farren (6-2 post) NE Crusaders-Benzan
Annie Barrett (5-5 guard) NE Crusaders-Benzan
Amy Duggan (6-3 forward) NE Crusaders-Benzan
Rebecca Prociak (5-10 post) Firm AC Elite
Tyler Koehan (5-9 guard) North Central Blaze Red
Emma Crooks (5-1 guard) North Central Blaze Red
Corinne McPadden (5-6 guard) Ct. Starters
Natalie Wadolowski (5-9 guard) Ct. Starters
Kyra Rose (5-9 post) Mass Ducks
Shannon Mannion (5-7 guard) Mass Ducks
Jess Greer (5-6 guard) Mass Ducks
Elizabeth Grosso (5-8 guard) Stamford Peace
Ashley Polera (5-8 guard) Stamford Peace
Christina Holmgren (5-9 post) Stamford Peace
Montana Braxton (5-9 guard) Maine Mainiacs-Hancock
Cebia Outlaw (5-7 guard) Ct. Storm Premier
Koina Guerra (5-7 guard) Westchester Hoopers-Guerra
Kayla Correa (5-3 point guard) Westchester Hoopers-Guerra
Mackenzie Aldridge (5-6 guard) Ct. Storm Premier
Emily Cronin (5-5 guard) NE Crusaders-Benzan
Kelly Hennigan (5-7 guard) New Jersey GymRatz
Dominique Rayam (5-6 guard) New Jersey GymRatz
Jenna Siletti (6-1 post) L.I. Lightning-Flynn
Ciara Burud (5-8 guard/forward) Game On Lady Lions
Dana Dockery (5-1 guard) Game On Lady Lions
Talea Garabo (5-4 pint guard) New Jersey GymRatz
Chloe Chaffin (5-8 post) Game On Lady Lions
Theresa Durkee (5-4 guard) Ct. Storm Premier
Katharine Higgins (6-0 post) N.J. Sparks Blue
Carolyn Modlish (5-6 guard) Bay State Blizzards
Dominique Salas (5-8 guard) N.J. Sparks Blue
Kristin Roplak (5-5 guard) North Central Blaze Red
Gabrielle Diorio (5-9 guard/forward) North Central Blaze Red
Paige Anderson (5-10 guard-forward) North Central Blaze Red
Kimmy Martinez (5-4 guard) Firm AC Elite
Amanda Kelly (5-11 post) Long Island Lightning-Flynn
Caleigh DeCaprio (5-0 guard) Long Island Lightning-Flynn
Coralie Saint-Amand (5-8 guard) Team Freckles
Janey Mathisen (5-6 guard) Mass Ducks
Janiyah Bridges (6-0 post) Team Freckles
Brianna Neeley (5-10 post) WNY Rapids
Anna Chiachiaa (5-8 guard) WNY Rapids
Abigail Adams (5-4 guard) WYN Rapids
Nina Ragland (5-6 guard) WNY Rapids
Mary Rose Gaulin (5-4 guard) WNY Rapids
Tiana Scales-Pugh (5-11 post) Rome Free Academy
Lauren Foley (5-8 guard) Sting Elite
Bronwyn Davis (5-11 small forward) Sting Elite
Lynadia Whiting (5-0 point guard) Connecticut Heat
Sameri Winklaar (5-7 guard/forward) Boston Sharks
Nia Sapia (5-10 guard/forward) CAS Panthers
Christina Humgren (5-9 forward) Stamford Peace
Kelsie Jacobs (5-8 forward) Springfield Lady Ballers
Grace McComb (5-2 point guard) Kingston Komets
Djhai Patterson-Ricks (5-5 point guard) City Rocks-Utica
Danielle Miglione (5-6 guard) City Rocks-Utica
Kasey Higgins (5-11 power forward) United N.J.
Brianna Robinson (5-7 guard) Kingston Komets
Halena Martin (5-9 forward) FBC Defenders
Samantha Larjano (5-5 guard) Albany Capitals
Samira Sangare (5-10 forward) Albany Capitals
Madison Norris (5-7 guard) Bay State Magic
Kendra Delhunt (5-6 guard) Bay State Magic
Pascale Paradis (5-5 guard) Pantheres-QUE
Andrea Torres (5-11 forward) Pantheres-QUE
Catherine Sanborne (5-4 guard) Maine Mainiacs-Dearborn
Sarah Lilley (5-6 guard) NYC Lady Warriors
Nicole Nicholson (5-5 guard) NYC Lady Warriors
Amanda Torres (5-7 guard) Granite State Rockettes
Abbey Morrison (5-3 guard) Granite State Rockettes
Jessica Baker (5-5 guard) Granite State Rockettes
Emily Padalino (5-9 guard) Saratoga Sparks
Courtney Picard (5-8 guard) Mass Frenzy Black
Megan Yeaw (5-7 guard) Mass Frenzy Black
Chelsea Mousette (5-0 guard) Mass Frenzy Black
Ally Parker (5-6 guard) Mass Frenzy Black
13:U GYMRAT CHALLENGE AGE DIVISION
DIXON COMES UP BIG TO LEAD BAY STATE JAGUARS TO TITLE
ALBANY – Keelah Dixon, at just 5-foot-3, might be small in stature but she’s big in heart and big on helping produce positive results.
The diminutive point guard of the Bay State Jaguars had to leave the 13-under age division’s championship game of the GymRat CHALLENGE with leg cramps midway through the second half.
But, she wasn’t going to let that deter her from leading her team to a GymRat title.
Dixon came back after several minutes of rest, finished with a game-high 16 points and resumed being the point of a smothering pressure defense that enabled the Jaguars to earn a 47-40 overtime victory over Bay State Magic Elite in an all-Massachusetts title contest.
“I felt my legs starting to cram and had to come out for a while,” said Dixon, the age-division’s MVG (Most Valuable GymRat). “But, I knew I had to get back in the game for my teammates. I did my best once I got back in there. I think the best part of my game is my defense.”
“She’s a tough kid, and when she told us she was ready to go we put her back in,” said Jags’ coach Sam Doner. “She brings a lot of energy. She’s the key to our pressing defense. She gives us a little bit of everything.”
But in Sunday’s championship contest played at UAlbany’s SEFCU Arena, Dixon got a little much-needed help at the end of regulation.
With the Jaguars down by a point with just seconds left in regulation, 6-3 center Amaya Finklea rebounded a missed Dixon shot and got fouled on the put-back attempt.
Finklea air-balled her first free throw, but nailed the second to keep her team’s hopes alive by sending the contest into an extra session.
“Amaya is our team’s most-improved player,” said Doner. “She wasn’t happy when she missed the first one. But she has a great work ethic, and the result is that she felt confident on the second shot. We knew she was going to make it.”
When she did, it enabled the Jaguars’ defense to control things in the overtime and secure the age-division championship.
Dixon’s play at both ends, as a lightning-quick point guard on offense and the point of the team’s pressure defense, helped ensure the Jags wouldn’t let its second chance slip away.
“She contributes in so many ways,” added Doner, about Dixon. “She creates for teammates, she’s a key to our press, and she brings the type of energy that everyone picks up on.”
It’s not often, though, that teams on the AAU circuit play the type defense the Jaguars exhibited throughout their championship run here.
“Defense is definitely our key,” added Doner. “We teach the kids to take pride in their defense. We put a lot of pressure on them to play that way. We force turnovers and, then, quickly go the other way to score. We tell the kids that if they want to score they have to play team defense.”
The Jaguars did enough of that through their tournament run, but needed even a little more. That came on Finklea’s late-regulation free throw, and Dixon’s never-give-up return from leg cramps to help inspire the Jaguars in overtime to secure their championship.
13:U AGE DIVISION MVG (MOST VALUABLE GYMRAT)
Keelah Dixon (5-3 point guard) Bay State Jaguars/Braintree H.S.: The sparkplug of the division’s championship team. Very strong moves driving to the rim, can take a hit. Good ball-handler and an aggressive attacker on offense. Great scorer who had 16 points in the title contest. The point of the team’s effective pressure defense. She disrupts opposing offenses. Will make things happen at both ends. Gets to the rim, draws fouls and can also pass in traffic. She just makes seems to know how to win games.
13:U AGE DIVISION ALL-GYMRAT CHALLENGE
Hayley Wardwell (5-9 guard) Bay State Magic Elite/Cardinal Spellman H.S.: An athletic guard that plays hard at all times and can really shoot it. Moves well without the ball and finds ways to score besides with just her jumper. She has an extremely quick release and doesn’t need a lot of space to pull the trigger.
Mackenzie DeWees (5-5 guard) Central Maryland Attitude/Manchester Valley H.S.: Exceptionally quick guard with an outstanding handle. Real scorer’s mentality. Aggressive getting to the rim and solid finisher around the rim and against traffic. Best of all, she plays real hard at all times. A real competitor.
Catherine “Addie” Masonius (5-3 guard) Jersey Shore Wildcats/Manasavan H.S.: Flat-out “baller,” who is tough, scrappy and athletic. Not the most-skilled player yet, but makes up for it by being active and having a tremendous feel for the game. Great passer, solid handle. Uses fakes well and finishes through hard contact.
Alisha Aube (5-10 forward) Maine Firecrackers-Hart/Westbrook H.S.: A versatile wing forward who has both skills and toughness. She is capable of playing either inside or on the wing. Rebounds well and finishes well around the rim against contact. She is also capable of stepping out to the perimeter and connecting on 3’s.
Asiah Knight (5-9 forward) Stamford Peace/Norwalk H.S.: A tough, strong and physical player. She doesn’t really have a defined position, but just knows how to play all over the court. She uses her strength to get through crowds of defenders and finishes at the rim against contact with regularity.
Jaydah Johnson (5-9 wing) Baltimore Starz/Windsor Mill M.S.: Very versatile and skilled, a true wing forward. Really talented passer and sticks her nose into the paint to chase rebounds. She scores with a short jumper, or by moving without the ball, catching it in the high post and using her skills to get to the basket.
Joie Grassi (5-10 forward) Bay State Magic-Elite/Plymouth North H.S.: Versatile and skilled. A do-everything forward. She rebounds on both ends of the floor, handles the ball in transition and is a terrific passer. Also can step out and shoot to 3-point range. Physical and tough. She returned from a hard foul early in the semifinal round to contribute later in the game.
Erin Antosh (6-2 center) Cape Cod Bulls/North Middlesex H.S.: Has intimidating height and length, along with agility and a high motor. Puts all of that to good use. Tough and aggressive. She wants to block everything. Looks to score mostly on offensive rebounds and put-backs. Decent finisher. Better conditioning and improved post moves could take her to the highest level.
Angela Bussone (5-6 guard) Syracuse Nets/Jamesville-DeWitt: A pure shooter with a quick release and good range. She made four 3’s in the first half of a tight pool-round contest. After that she used a shot-fake and pull-up jumper after the defense started getting out to guard her. Handles it well and can get into the paint and deliver with a great floater.
Caitlin Boermeester (5-6 guard) NELP-McGinness/Billerica H.S.: A super talented, hard playing do-everything guard who does all the little things that help teams win. Always moving with or without the ball. Can handle the ball well and distributes to open teammates. She can get to the rim, but can also step out and shoot the 3.
Janeea Summers (5-11 power forward) Pure Basketball/Smalley M.S.: A tough, tall and strong force in the post. Great back-to-the-basket game for her age. Catches the ball down low and knows how to score from there. Plays really hard at all times and always seems to come up with rebounds and loose balls as a result of her hustle.
Maddie Martin (5-4 guard) JB Hoops-Martin/Dunmore: A good ball handler. She can work against defensive pressure without a problem. Keeps composure on the court. A true leader of the pack. She will attack the rim, draw defenders and, then, get the ball to open teammates. Also scores enough, had 13 in one game here.
Monita Moon (5-5 guard) L.I. Lightning-Catapano/Baldwin: She instills energetic play in her team through her own non-stopo effort. She will sacrifice her body and is not afraid of contact. Will attack the rim and get to the line. Also a very good passer who looks to get teammates involved. Had 18 points in one game here.
Grace Stone (5-6 guard) L.I. Lightning-Catapano/Long Island Lutheran: A very active offensive player who brings passion to her play. Will move to get open and does not have to be set to get off a good shot. She has the ability to catch, turn and shoot effectively. Great footwork. Defensively she will create turnovers. Had 18 points in one game here.
Madison Millwood (5-3 point guard) L.I. Lightning-Catapano/Baldwin: Extremely fast qnd quic with or without the ball. She can break down the defense by herself with her ballhandling. Always looking to draw the defense and get the ball to open teammates. Understands when to shoot, when to take it inside and when to pass. Doesn’t have to score to be a factor.
Sierra Mayo (5-9 forward) Albany Capitals 13 Elite/Shaker H.S.: A very active player. Very scrappy, particularly on the defensive end where she comes up with steals and deflections. Has good length and knows how to use it to her advantage. Has an intense playing style, the “eye of the tiger.” Contributes without having to be a big scorer.
Salena Lott (5-9 forward) Albany Capitals 13 Elite/Columbia: Has a strong impact on the floor. A very active and tough defender. All-out motor, a real hustler. Great vision on the court and can effectively pass the ball to open teammates. Knows when to take charge and when to pass it up.
Kamani Williams (5-9 forward) Jersey Fusion Elite/Bayshore: Very fast player who runs the floor very well. A good free-throw shooter with great form. Usually looks to pass. Can break down the defense by using her dribble. Does the intangibles, doesn’t have to score a lot to have a big impact on games.
Sydney Brown (5-10 forward) Albany Capitals 13 Elite/Shenendehowa; A terrific set shooter. Good size for her age and uses it to be a great rebounder. She will go after the ball relentlessly both offensively and defensively. Does a lot of little things that lead to team success. Hard worker. She averaged 10 points per game here.
Century McCartney (5-8 forward) Connecticut Heat: Has quick and effective post moves. A great passer who sees the floor well. Very scrappy player who isn’t afraid to go to the floor to get loose balls. Can and will take the charge. Good at creating her own shot, primarily through her own strong ball-handling skills.
Hailee Hallard (5-6 guard) Jersey Sting/Middletown North: A very active player who will save a ball going out of bounds … dives for balls, sacrificing body. Doesn’t ever give up. Not afraid to take a shot and make a play. Goes hard to the hoop, making contact and getting to the line. Also showed 3-point range here.
Alexandria Pendergrass (5-8 forward) Jersey Sting/Saint Rose: Very athletic player who can jump out of the gym. Great rebounder and shot blocker. Decent shooter, but does most of her work of offensive rebounding. Great sportsmanship. High motor and her teammates feeds off her energy, particularly after she gets a block. Scored 14 points in one game here.
Danielle Deoul (6-1 center) New Jersey GymRatz?Saddle River Day: A strong post player with good inside moves. She looks up court after getting a defensive rebound. Sold free-throw shooter. Will throw long outlet and start great fast breaks. Most of her team’s transition points come from her long passes after a rebound. Had 14- and 13-point games here.
Aliyah Stephens (5-6 guard) Philly Freedom Stars-Nexxt/Trenton Catholic: A very passionate player not afraid to express herself on the court. Aggressive and active defender who intimidates opponents. Not afraid of contact and gets to the rim to finish. Good attitude on the court, butcan mistake passion for the game. Averaged 10 points per contest here.
Jahsyni Knight (5-4 guard) Jersey Cardinals/Rutgers Preparatory: A true point guard, a great ball-handler who runs and controls the offense. An intense defender. She is quick and is hard for an offensive player to get past her. Key player on the floor. Just a great leader. Can take control and make things happen. Averaged 13.4 points per game here.
Autumn Ceppi (5-11 post) Bay State Jaguars/Dana Hall H.S.: A hard worker who does all the necessary little things. She crashes the boards, yet also hustles back on defense. Can handle the ball well for her size. Does a little of everything … rebounds, passes, gets steals and can score. Doesn’t need to score big to be a contributor.
Talia Kosierwoski (5-4 point guard) Firm AC/Dallas H.S.: Shows a very high basketball IQ. A great vocal leader, a true coach on the floor. Has great court vision and is a pass-first point guard Very tough, rebounds well for her size. Dangerous 3-point shooter. Finishes at the rim in traffic. Influences the game in a variety of ways by getting to loose balls, rebounding and piling up assists.
Lara Matos (5-5 point guard) Boston Showstoppers/Somerville M.S.: Excels at attacking the basket and finishing. Has a scorer’s mentality every time she touches the ball. Capable shooter from mid-range and out to the 3-point line. Displays great court vision. Anticipation and quick hands lead to numerous steals. Yo-yo handle makes her able to get into the lane at will.
Grace Guachione (5-2 guard) Berkshire Blazers/Reid: Displays tremendous basketball IQ. Long arms and ability to anticipate leads to many steals. A dangerous spot-up shooter from mid range to 3-point line. Excels at attacking the basket in transition. Great court vision allows her to make good passes. Rebounds well for a guard.
Ayanna Mayzek (5-8 forward) Philly Freedom/Dimmer Beeber M.S.: Excels in attacking the basket and finishing with both hands. Explosive and strong, finishes through contact. Has the lateral movement and speed to be a lock-down defender. Capable shooter out to 17 feet. Rebounds well for a guard. Quick hands lead to many steals.
Brittany Garner (6-1 center) Philly Freedom/Crockett M.S.: Size and physical strength enables her to dominate at times. Does a great job of establishing low-post position. Has good footwork in the post and a soft touch around the basket. Rebounds well in her area. Has good timing on blocking shots. Right-handed hook is almost unguardable.
13:U AGE DIVISION ALL-GYMRAT CHALLENGE HONORABLE MENTION
Jennifer Worden (5-9 guard) Bay State Magic Elite
Caroline Collard (5-10 post) Honey Badgers
Katie Nelson (5-7 guard) Honey Badgers
Ashley Ahern (5-2 guard) Honey Badgers
Molly Lahiff (5-8 post) Honey Badgers
Emma Forbes (5-2 guard) Honey Badgers
Imani Lewis (6-0 post) Philly Freedom Stars-Nexxt
Jenna Anneccharicio (5-4 guard) L.I. Lightning-Catapano
Taylor Rodriguez (5-6 guard) New Jersey GymRatz
Gabrielle Redden (6-1 post) Jersey Cardinals
Olivia Dabney (5-10 post) Jersey Cardinals
Amaya Finklea (6-3 center) Bay State Jaguars
Saeeda Abdul-Aziz (5-8 post) Albany Capitals 13 Elite
Marissa Fontaine (5-11 post) Bay State Jaguars
Hannah Scanlan (5-11 post) Jersey Sting
Stella Clark (5-3 guard) Jersey Shore Wildcats
Ellyn Stoll (5-7 guard) Jersey Shore Wildcats
Abrial Murray (5-3 guard) Ct. Spirit
Faith Masonius (5-10 forward) Jersey Shore Wildcats
Cory Dickson (5-1 guard) Baseline Elite
Anndea Ziegler (5-8 forward) Baseline Elite
Lauren Wimsaff (5-6 guard) United N.J.
Margaret Affeld (5-6 guard) United N.J.
Olivia Wise (5-4 guard) Stamford Peace
Eve Hughes (5-9 guard) Syracuse Nets
Allison LaMonica (5-1 guard) L.I. Lightning-Prisco
Mackenzie Wofford (5-7 guard) NELP-McGinness
Jourdin Thomass (5-6 guard) Game 7
Emma Roush (5-10 forward) Cape Cod Bulls
Francesca Vanegas (5-6 guard) Central Md. Attitude
Kaila Brown (5-7 guard) Central Md. Attitude
Peyton Steinman (5-7 guard) Berkshire Blazers
Isabella Aitken (5-2 guard) Berkshire Blazers
Devyn Dish (5-4 guard) NJS 2018
Jordan McLemore (5-6 guard) NJS 2018
Jordanne Manney (5-4 guard) Lake Champlain Lakers
Brooke Bjelko (6-1 ceenter) Lake Champlain Lakers
Taiah Thornton (5-4 guard) Philly Freedom
Sydney Wagner (5-6 guard) Philly Freedom
Jamira Watkins (5-10 forward) N.J. Sparks-Orange
Breyenn Bellerand (5-8 guard) N.J. Sparks-Orange
Chaliya Brown (5-5 guard) N.J. Sparks-Orange
Jillian Jenning (5-6 guard) N.J. Sparks-Orange
Paige Allen (5-10 forward) Firm AC
Alyssa Waters (5-2 guard) Lake Champlain Lakers
Masseny Kaba (6-0 center) Boston Showstoppers