BOARDMAN-One of the fun apsects of postseason all-star games is the chance they provide friends from opposing schools to play together.
United's Mackenzie Gatchel and West Branch's Amanda Linhart have bonded since seventh grade through AAU basketball, making it appropriate that they each closed out their high school careers as teammates in Wednesday's 44th annual Al Beach Classic.
Gatchel scored 10 points and Linhart had five points to help lead the White team to a 67-39 victory over the Red team at Boardman High School.
"It was a fun way to go out," Gatchel said. "I've known Amanda (Linhart) for a long time, and I'm also good friends with McKenna (Shives) and Ashleigh (Ryan) from Struthers. It was fun to play with them."
The White team was led by 18 points from Megan Sefcik from Austintown Fitch, who was named the game's MVP. The University of Akron recruit produced one of the better highlights of the night, firing a nifty pass to Linhart who drained a wide-open corner three late in the second half.
"I've played against her (Sefcik) for as long as I can remember so it was nice to finally be on her team and talk with her a little bit," Linhart said. "She's a great player.
Linhart's three had little bearing on the outcome as the White team got out to a 13-2 lead and never let up, pulling away for good just after halftime. Linhart helped spark the run with a steal, while Gatchel hit a pair of three-pointers. Her last three made the score 50-29 with 6:40 remaining.
"We played with a pretty good pace tonight," Gatchel said. "The flow was better than last night's game (The Columbiana County Classic)."
Among the other local player Wednesday night, Starla Sharp (South Range) had six points, Baylee Felger (Springfield) had two points and Aleah Whitacre (Columbiana) was held scoreless. Leah Leshank from Liberty had nine points to lead the White team.
Whitacre concurred with Gatchel about Wednesday's quality of play.
"The girls were a lot bigger and stronger than the (Columbiana) county game last night," Whitacre said. "It was a lot of fun to be on the floor."
Victoria Rappach from Howland won the halftime three-point contest with 19 baskets. Sefcik came in second with 14, Logan Nitsche (Hubbard) placed third with nine and Poland's Kaylin Donnadio finished fourth with seven.
WHITE SCORING: McKenna Shives (Struthers) 3-0-6, Ashleigh Ryan (Struthers) 1-0-3, Cassie Custer (Austintown Fitch) 0-0-0, Megan Sefcik (Austintown Fitch) 7-0-18, Kelly Tomcsanyi (Boardman) 2-0-4, Jenna Kuczek (Boardman) 4-2-13, Amanda Linhart (West Branch) 2-0-5, Katie Seidita (Lowellville) 0-0-0, Baylee Felger (Springfield) 1-0-2, Starla Sharp (South Range) 2-2-6, Aleah Whitacre (Columbiana) 0-0-0, Mackenzie Gatchel (United) 4-0-10. TEAM TOTALS: 26, 4-4: 67.
RED SCORING: Gabby Cvengros (Howland) 1-0-2, Leah Leshnak (Liberty) 4-0-9, Bree Bishop (Girard) 0-4-4, Lauren Elza (Bristol) 1-0-3, Maddie Kiser (LaBrae) 0-0-0, Sarah Cash (Lordstown) 1-3-5, Rachel Wilson (Southington) 2-0-4, Danielle DiCristofaro (Brookfield) 2-0-4, Brooke Barreca (Newton Falls) 0-0-0, Brooke Dawson (Maplewood) 1-2-4, Becca Jones (Jackson-Milton) 1-0-2, Maddie Tomaino (Jackson-Milton) 1-0-2. TEAM TOTALS: 14, 8-14: 39.
Three-point goals: White 11 (Sefcik 4, Kuczek 3, Gatchel 2, Linhart, Ryan) Red 2 (Leshnak, Elza).