GRANVILLE — The top players in District 11 laced up their shoes one last time on Friday night in the Girls All-Star game at Granville High School.
Four players — Danville’s Aubrey Hazen, Courtney Briegel of Fredericktown, Highland’s Kristen Anderson and Abbie Corbett of Utica — represented the area as did Utica coach Michelle Snow. Snow’s North squad, which included Briegel, Anderson and Corbett, knocked off the South, 81-65.
“We just wanted to have fun,” said Snow. “Anytime you get to coach this level of talent, it is always nice to have some fun and come out and win a game. It really isn’t about the winning and losing, but about the kids having a good time and getting to know some of the kids that I’ve coached against.”
Win or lose, the players wanted to enjoy themselves, and enjoy the game they did.
“Getting the opportunity to play with the best around is always fun,” said Corbett. “We just came out and had fun.”
“This was a lot of fun,” said Anderson. “To get to compete against all of these girls was great. You kind of get to see them in a different light. I really enjoyed it.”
The first half was fairly competitive, with neither team gaining much of a foothold in the first 10 minutes. Two buckets by Corbett helped spur the North on a 7-4 run and open up a 15-11 lead with 13:10 on the clock. The South closed the gap behind Hazen and took a 20-17 advantage on a layin by Amanda-Clearcreek’s Gretchen Meyer. The team then traded buckets over the next few minutes, keeping the lead at three.
That’s when things began to change, however. Fairfield Christian’s Amy Bishop got hot and sparked a 17-0 run for the North, opening up a 38-24 lead. The teams traded points to end the half, and the North led 40-26 at the break.
“I think a few of our girls weren’t at practice, so we had to get used to each other,” Anderson, who finished with eight points, said. “Once we did that and got warmed up, we went all out from there.”
“Our defense picked up, and we were able to go down and score at the other end,” Briegel said. “Our intensity was better.”
The second half was more of the same. The North outscored the South, 24-14, in the first 10 minutes of the half to establish a solid, 64-38 advantage. The South, however, didn’t give in. It put together a 19-4 run of its open to close the gap to 11, 68-57, with 5:15 to go, but that was as close as it got. A jumper by Hazen with 1:48 to go kept the deficit at 11, but the North closed on a 7-2 run to win, 81-65.
“This was a good experience, playing against other girls that are as good or better than I am,” said Hazen, who finished with nine points. “This was a whole other level than what I’m used to. You had to just go with it.”
“This felt really good,” said Briegel, who finished with seven points. “Some people I knew and some people I didn’t. It was great playing with people I knew, because they are good basketball players. ... I felt like I was able to play my game with them. On my team at (Fredericktown), I played with a lot of inexperienced players, but here, I was able to do what I wanted to do because we had so much talent.
“Winning feels really good. I’ve never hit 80 points in my whole career, so it is nice.”
On teams with so much talent, the game was a learning experience as much as anything else. Many of the players will be taking the abilities to the collegiate level next season.
“There were quite a few of us that are playing at the next level, so that was great,” said Corbett, who finished with eight points. “It is nice to play against that much talent.”
One player who won’t is Anderson, who plans to get married this summer. The decision to not play in college was a difficult one, but this game, as well as the Mount Vernon News All-Star Senior Showcase, fulfilled her competitive nature.
“At the end of the season, we lost our tournament game, and I didn’t want to go out like that, “ said Anderson. “Winning the two all-star games I played in just put a cap on my season and my career. It was a great way to finish.”
Notes: Several awards were handed out at the conclusion of the girls contest, with three area individuals being recognized. Corbett was honored as the District 11 Division II Player of the Year, and Snow was honored as the District 11 Division II Coach of the Year. Also recognized was Mount Vernon senior Niki DiGuilio as the District 11 Division I Player of the Year. DiGuilio, who was not in attendance, was selected for the game but declined to play.