WILKES-BARRE — Coming back together for one last high school game can be more difficult than it appears.
But it was all plenty of fun and for a good cause as the best seniors in the Wyoming Valley Conference came together Friday for the 44th Dr. George P. Moses Classic at Holy Redeemer. The West All-Stars were led by Dallas guard Ashley Dunbar, who scored 12 points and won Player of the Game honors in a 71-38 victory.
“Definitely. Definitely,” Dunbar said of having to shake off the rust of being a month removed from the season. “I guess I got out of shape. I thought I was in shape from going to the gym, but …”
The East held the lead for 3 1/2 minutes after a pull-up jumper by Julianna Leco of GAR seven minutes in. The West finally regained the lead with a run of 12 consecutive points capped by a pair of Serra Degnan (Wyoming Area) drives.
“It’s a great way to end my basketball career,” Dunbar said. “I love everyone on my team. I wasn’t really friends with a lot of these girls until now.”
The West took a 36-21 lead into halftime after Katie Proulx (Tunkhannock) closed out the first half scoring, but threes from Crestwood’s Rachael Ritz and Carina Mazzoni for the East brought the West lead to single digits one last time.
The West scored the game’s final 18 points.
Degnan won Defensive Player of the Game honors and Leco won the Sportsmanship Award.
QUEEN THREE: Northwest’s Alivia Womelsdorf of the West won the three-point contest at halftime, beating Mazzoni 7-6.
Each player took five shots from three spots, with the last shot counting for two points instead of one. Womelsdorf missed her first eight shots but finished strong, making her last three for the win.
She had a game-high 15 points, including five immediately after her name was announced for a basket by the East’s Gabby Lutz.
BETTER ODDS?: To start the game, Meyers center Mackenzie Winder went to midcourt for the jump ball representing the East. For the West, it was supposed to be one of the many centers on the squad. But Degnan — a guard listed at 5-foot-6 — snuck into the circle before laughing and stepping away.
Then, late in the game, West center Tanner Englehart took up residence outside the three-point arc.
“Jess, c’mon,” she offered after Dallas teammate Jessica Hiscox passed the other direction to Altemose for a three.
A couple of trips later, Englehart fired off a three, then offered a laugh and raised her arms, but only caught iron.
“That’s a good match,” Dunbar said when asked which player had the better chance of success. “Serra can jump pretty high, but Tanner popped a three for us in a game this season. I’ve got faith in both of them.”
To Englehart’s credit, the three was a good shot, and she had six points and two demonstrative blocks.
FATHER-DAUGHTER DANCE: The game was special for Holy Redeemer’s Brianne Frascella, but not just because it was on her home court.
One of the officials was her father, Dan.
“My dad’s been coaching me since I was 3 years old,” said Brianne, who had never had her father as an official before. “He comes to all my games. But this was definitely an awesome experience. Not too many people get to have this kind of experience.”
Brianne started for the West and finished with six points. For those wondering, she did not earn a trip to the free-throw line.
“Awkward,” Dan said of some moments. “As a ref, you’re not supposed to cheer. But it’s your natural instinct to cheer for your daughter.”
With all the friendly conversations taking place between plays, did Brianne threaten to have East players teed up?
“No, but my coaches told me before the game to make him make some calls,” Brianne laughed.
GOING FOR IT: While the game was for fun, credit East’s Marena Spence of GAR for trying to create contact and draw fouls while shooting.
Holy Redeemer’s Sarah Warnagiris led all players on trips to the floor, twice getting launched from the low post and sliding well past the baseline. Midway through the first half, she also stepped in front of a pass by Ritz, taking it square on the nose. She didn’t miss a second of action.
Keana Schoennagle wasn’t as lucky. She appeared to injure her ankle six minutes in and did not return.
FUN TIMES: Being an All-Star game, the win-at-all-costs approach of a district playoff game was nowhere to be found.
Instead, there was Nanticoke’s Brittany Sugalski battling in traffic for a rebound for the East, corralling it and offering up a big smile as the lane emptied and she passed to Trojanettes teammate Sara Higgins.
And while plenty of families and friends were there to support the seniors, the back-and-forth with Hanover Area’s Sam Masher and her family brought smiles to plenty of faces.
The West bench got in on the fun, prodding Holy Redeemer’s Sara Altemose to “shoot from there” in the backcourt about 50 feet from the rim while bringing the ball up on offense in the first half.
WEST (71): Ashley Dunbar 5 0-0 12, Serra Degnan 3 0-0 6, Tanner Englehart 3 0-2 6, Jessica Hiscox 4 0-0 10, Sarah Warnagiris 1 1-4 3, Alivia Womelsdorf 6 2-2 15, Katie Proulx 1 0-0 2, Sara Altemose 2 0-0 5, Kenesha Bonner 1 0-0 2, Sam Masher 2 0-0 4, Brianne Frascella 3 0-0 6, Rachel Olszewski 0 0-0 0. Totals 30 5-8 71.
EAST (38): Marena Spence 2 1-1 6, Sara Higgins 0 0-0 0, Alex Brassington 0 0-0 0, Jen Konopinski 1 0-0 3, Gabby Lutz 2 1-2 5, Brittany Sugalski 2 0-2 4, Kayley Schinski 0 0-2 0, Carina Mazzoni 2 0-0 5, Bethany Williams 0 1-2 1, Cathy Quinones 0 0-0 0, Rachael Ritz 1 0-0 3, Julianna Leco 2 0-0 5, Deidra Ciavarella 0 0-0 0, Mackenzie Winder 2 2-2 6, Keana Schoennagle 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 5-11 38.
Three-point goals: WEST 6 (Dunbar 2, Hiscox 2, Womelsdorf, Altemose), EAST 5 (Spence, Konopinski, Mazzoni, Ritz, Leco).