Seven girls named first-team, all-state

Seven girls named first-team, all-state

By Tom Robinson, NEPABasketball.com

Individually, and collectively, the accomplishments are staggering.

Four-time, all-state selection.

Three-time, first-teamer.

Another repeat first-teamer.

Six total repeating all-state recognition.

Seven first-teamers in all, including two pairs of teammates and four underclassmen.

It all adds up to District 2 – and specifically, the Lackawanna League – being the most represented in the entire state when it comes to first-team selections on the Pennsylvania Sports Writers All-State Girls Basketball Team.

Scranton Prep’s Rachael Rose and Cecelia Collins, Dunmore’s Moriah Murray and Ciera Toomey, Riverside’s Kylie Lavelle, Old Forge’s Olivia Ciullo and Holy Cross’ Kaci Kranson all were named to the first team in their respective classes when the squad was announced Monday afternoon.

Only District 7, the suburban Pittsburgh area with 130 girls basketball teams, matched District 2’s total of seven first-team selections. None of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association districts exceeded that number.

District 2’s seven first-team choices are from a group of 41 member schools and all come from the 24 teams in the Lackawanna League.

It’s no wonder that in separate interviews, coaches Bob Beviglia from Scranton Prep and Jack Mekilo from Riverside called this the “Golden Age” of Lackawanna League basketball.

Getting even more specific, the selections come from two divisions – five players from the seven teams in Division 3 and the two players who never lost a Division 1 game in their four-year careers.

2021 ALL-STATE FREQUENCY

 

Group

First-Team

All-Staters

Member

Schools

 

Rate

Pennsylvania

37

727

1 in 19.7

Lackawanna League

7

24

1 in 3.4

Rest of state

30

703

1 in 23.4

PIAA District 1

4

89

1 in 22.3

PIAA District 2

7

41

1 in 5.9

PIAA District 3

6

116

1 in 19.3

PIAA District 4

3

46

1 in 15.3

PIAA District 5

0

20

0

PIAA District 6

1

48

1 in 48

PIAA District 7

7

130

1 in 18.6

PIAA District 8

0

6

0

PIAA District 9

0

34

0

PIAA District 10

0

44

0

PIAA District 11

1

53

1 in 53

PIAA District 12

5

73

1 in 14.6

Pa. Independent Schools

3

27

1 in 9

 

The seven-member Class 4A first team, includes two players each from Scranton Prep, Dunmore and state champion Archbishop Wood.

Rose is the four-year selection, rising to the first team for the first time this season. Collins, in his second year of all-state recognition, joined her.

“It probably puts the exclamation point on everything the two of them have done for the program and the school community over the last four years,” Beviglia said. “The great thing about them is that those kids don’t ever think about things like all-state or all-region or all-league. They just want to win.

“I think to be recognized this way is a fitting way for both of them to end their high school careers.”

Murray, a junior, is the three-time, first-teamer.

With one and two years remaining, Murray and Toomey each have a chance of matching Rose’s distinction of making all-state in all four of their high school seasons.

Both Murray and Toomey overcame some significant obstacles with Dunmore forced into Class 4A by the PIAA, despite having a Class 3A enrollment, and then not being able to participate in the postseason because of COVID-19 cases.

By then, they had already proved worthy.

“This year, not even getting to districts, let alone states, I wasn’t really expecting anything,” said Toomey, who after Northeastern University joined in last week, now has 12 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I offers. “I was just super happy to hear. It’s great to be up there with my sister (current Rider University player Victoria) and Mo.

“It’s awesome to hear how many people got it. It just shows how many good players we have in our area.”

Lavelle makes the first-team in Class 3A for the second straight season. Murray’s future teammate at Division I Drexel University still has another year left to add to her credentials.

Ciullo, a third-team pick last season, and Kranson, a junior, make the Class 2A team.

While first-team honors are new to Rose, Collins, Toomey and Ciullo, Kranson is the only one from the group who had not previously been all-state.

Holy Cross coach Barry Fitzgerald said he was “disappointed” Kranson did not make it last season as a sophomore. A second straight year of averaging more than 20 points in the district and state playoffs made the case for her this season.

All seven all-state selections played for the NEPA Elite AAU club out of Riverfront Sports in Scranton during the 2020 summer and fall and Lavelle and Murray will connect again as teammates at Drexel.

For Rose and Collins, two more Division I scholarship-committed players, it is time to go their separate ways after years of playing together both in and outside of the high school season.

Their play inspired Beviglia, an English teacher at Scranton Prep, to paraphrase Hamlet.

“I shall not look upon their like again,” he said.

Rose is headed to the University of South Carolina Upstate.

Collins will play at Bucknell University.

“Obviously, I’m really happy about the accomplishment,” said Collins, who helped make Scranton Prep the last team standing from District 2 with a trip to the state semifinals. “It’s even better that Rachael and I are on the first team.

“It caps our senior year, but I’m also sad that it’s over and that we couldn’t really complete the one goal that we wanted to accomplish, but I’m also just grateful that we were able to have this opportunity with the coronavirus. It’s kind of mixed emotions.”

They were often done early in their high school games with Scranton Prep winning 12 times by 39 or more points on the way to another District 2 championship – their fourth together – and a trip to the state Class 4A final four.

That did not stop Rose and Collins from putting up impressive numbers.

Rose shot 52 percent from 3-point range while averaging 16.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 4.0 steals.

“This is just an awesome honor,” said Rose, who is the two-time NEPABasketball.com District 2 Player of the Year. “I’m happy for Cecelia, she deserves it so much.

“ … We didn’t end the way we wanted to, but looking back on the season, I’m just so grateful to have been a part of this team. It was an amazing four years.”

Collins put up 15.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.8 steals per game.

Early exits are also commonplace at Dunmore. And, similarly, they could only do so much to limit the production of Murray and Toomey.

Murray supplemented her 16.5 points per game with six assists, five rebounds and three steals.

Toomey added to her 15.3 points with nine rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots.

"I am very proud of Moriah and Ciera," Dunmore coach Ben O'Brien said. "They are both outstanding players and even more importantly great teammates."

The Lady Bucks were unbeaten in Lackawanna League Division 3 and suffered their only loss by five points in an early-season, non-league game against Scranton Prep.

“To make it means so much and I wouldn’t have gotten it without my teammates and coach,” said Murray, who like Toomey lowered her expectations for individual honors when the team could not participate in the postseason. “To know that Ciera also made it that’s a great accomplishment for two girls from a local small school.

“ … I was really shocked.”

Riverside’s only losses within the district came against Dunmore.

Lavelle led the Lady Vikes to their first District 2 title since 2004 with a Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza-record 30 points in the Class 3A championship game.

“I feel like I took over that game after the first half,” said Lavelle, who has set Player of the Year as a goal for her senior season.

The district final win over Western Wayne was her sixth game of 30 or more points.

“To score 35 against Dunmore, 32 against Notre Dame Green Pond, and then set the arena scoring record with 30 in the 3A finals, all while guarding the other team’s best player, is an amazing achievement and Kylie did those things in a five-week stretch,” Mekilo said.

The Lackawanna Division 3 Player of the Year was the driving force behind Riverside leading all District 2 teams with 19 wins. She averaged 22.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 2.0 assists while shooting 56.7 percent from the floor, 36.8 percent on 3-pointers and 83.0 percent from the line.

“This is not only a great accomplishment for Kylie and our program, but the showing by our area, in particular our Division 3, is impressive,” Mekilo said. “Some of the best basketball in the state is being played right here every night.

“It’s fun to be a part of.”

The division put players on the Class 4A, 3A and 2A teams.

Ciullo, who is headed to Division III Susquehanna University, averaged a double-double while playing every position on the court, both offensively and defensively. A strong post and mid-range presence throughout her career while going against bigger players at 5-foot-8, Ciullo averaged 22.4 points, along with 11 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals per game as a senior.

The first all-state recognition for Ciullo came in 2020 when she led Old Forge to a district championship and a spot in the state quarterfinals – along with Scranton Prep and Dunmore, among others – before the tournament was cut short. She did that while playing for Ron Stacchiotti, who sat out this season while undergoing cancer treatments while Tom Gatto came out of retirement to run the team in his absence.

“It’s definitely an honor, not only for me, but for my team,” Ciullo said. “We worked really hard.

“Even though we didn’t reach where we wanted to go, that doesn’t mean we didn’t put a lot of work in.

“We had somebody to play for this year. We always had Stack in mind.”

Ciullo’s first call when receiving the first-team, all-state news was to Stacchiotti.

“It touched his heart when I told him I made it,” she said. “He’s been there for me this whole way.

“It was definitely special.”

Kranson has 77 points in three state tournament games the last two seasons, including 22 points to go along with 10 rebounds when Holy Cross led into the final minute before losing to eventual state champion Mount Carmel on its home court, 50-47, in the state quarterfinals.

“In the state playoffs, I thought we did very well,” Kranson said. “That was a great game and they deserved it because they such a great team, but I thought we gave them a great run, too.”

The junior finished with 21.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 2.1 assists per game.

“She has improved her defense considerably,” Fitzgerald said. “I feel like she’s a Division I defender and I could not have said that two years ago.

“She has improved her shot and I’ll put her up against anybody attacking the basket. She’s tough to guard.

“She’s a complete and all-around player and she’s just so athletic.”

 

MORE: The complete list of all-state teams and a look at players who faced District 2 champions in the state tournament. https://nepabasketball.com/2020-21/articles/AllStateGirlsList.

 

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