DuBOIS — The 2019-20 high school basketball season came to an abrupt end just over a week ago when the PIAA playoffs were suspended following the second round due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
When that decision was made, the PIAA had hopes of continuing the playoffs after two weeks — although the chances of that happening appear to be in jeopardy with the schools and non-essential businesses still being closed.
That leaves a lot of teams and players in limbo, particularly seniors on those squads remaining who don’t know if they’ll ever suit up for their respective schools again.
If there was a silver lining for the girls teams in the Tri-County Area, it was that the last of the area squads to qualify for the state playoffs (Redbank Valley) saw its season end in the second round prior to the stoppage of the postseason.
Now, none of the area teams have to play the waiting game to see if the state playoffs will be eventually finished or not.
The season as a whole was a very successful one for the girls teams in the Tri-County Area.
A year ago three schools reached the state playoffs and just four of the 12 local teams finished with a winning record. Those total rose to four state qualifiers and seven teams with a winning mark.
Overall, nine of the 12 area girls schools finished with a better record this season compared to last, and one of the three teams that didn’t still won 15 games.
Redbank Valley led that area resurgence with a huge turnaround season. The Lady Bulldogs went from 8-14 a year ago to 20-8 this season while capturing the District 9 Class 2A title — the program’s first D-9 crown in 22 years.
Brockway (3-19 to 12-11), Ridgway (10-13 to 17-8) and Clarion-Limestone (2-20 to 8-14) also saw major jumps in their win totals. The Lady Elkers, who entered the D-9 2A playoffs as the top seed, won their first playoff game in 21 years before finishing fourth — missing a trip to states by one win.
Redbank was joined in the PIAA playoffs by D-9 Class 3A champ Brookville (12-12), D-9 Class 2A third-palce finisher Clarion (15-11) and D-9 Class A third-place finisher Elk County Catholic (16-12).
St. Marys (18-6) finished with the second most wins in the area while finishing as the District 9 Class 4A runner-up to Punxsutawney.
Given that improvement across the board this season, it should come as no surprise that a multitude of teams are represented on this year’s Tri-County Sunday/Courier Express All-Star teams.
As for the two major awards associated with the All-Stars — Player and Coach of the Year — they were swept by the two people largely responsible for Redbank’s magical run to the state round of states: senior guard Tara Hinderliter and first-year coach Chris Edmonds. Hinderliter edged out reigning Player of the Year Taylor Newton (Elk County Catholic) for the award.
Hinderliter is just the second Lady Bulldog to win the Player of the Year Award in its 27-year history, joining older sister Brooke Hinderliter who won it in 2016. Edmonds is the first Redbank coach to ever garner Coach of the Year honors.
Here is a closer look at this year’s TCS/CE Award winners and All-Star Teams:
Player of the Year
Tara Hinderliter, Sr., Redbank Valley: Hinderliter was the driving force on the court behind Redbank’s magical season that saw the Lady Bulldogs post the 12-win turnaround, win the school’s first district title since 1998 and reach the second round of the state playoffs.
All Hinderliter did this season was lead District 9 in scoring — both in total points (590) and scoring average (21.1 ppg).
Hinderliter, who had a career-high 40 points in a 69-65 overtime win against Clarion on Jan. 31, scored 27 points in a 53-49 win against Cochranton in the opening round of states, the Lady Bulldogs first PIAA victory since 1998 as well. Hindterliter then closed out her stellar career with a 14-point performance in an 83-54 loss to two-time defending state champion Bellwood-Antis and Notre Dame recruit Alli Campbell.
With those 14 points, Hinderliter finished her Lady Bulldogs career with 1,401 points, the second most in school history behind older sister Brooke (1,997). She is one of seven 1,000-point scorers in school history — hitting that milestone with a 38-point performance against Ligonier Valley on Dec. 28
Hinderliter was a Second Team selection a year ago.
Coach of the Year
Chris Edmonds, Redbank Valley: In his third season at the helm of the Lady Bulldogs, Edmonds guided Redbank valley to a season he, his players and and fans won’t soon forget.
Edmonds entered the season hoping to get back to the .500 mark — something no Lady Bulldog squad had done since the 2015-16 season — as he returned most of his varsity roster from last year’s 8-14 squad.
Redbank not only achieved that goal, but far exceeded expectations in a 20-8 season that saw the Lady Bulldogs reach the second round of the PIAA playoffs before falling to two-time defending state champion Bellwood-Antis.
Along the way, the Lady Bulldogs won their first playoff game in five years before capturing the school’s first district title since 1998 with a 48-37 win against Keystone in Class 2A championship game. Redbank then went on to colledt its first state win since that ’98 season when it bested Cochranton, 53-49, in the opening round.
Edmonds edged out Ridgway’s John Bennardi for Coach of the Year honors. Bennardi guided the Lady Elkers to a Cinderella-type season of their own that saw them go 17-8 and earn the top seed for the D-9 Class 2A playoffs that second-seeded Redbank eventually won. The Lady Elkers won their first playoff game in 21 years before finishing fourth, a win shy of reaching states.
Taylor Newton, Sr., Elk County Catholic: Newton, last year’s TCS/CE Player of the Year, closed out her Lady Crusader career with another standout season while leading ECC to a 16-12 and a trip to state playoffs as the third place team in Class A in District 9.
She averaged a double-double on the season, scoring 473 points (16.9 ppg) while pulling down over 12 rebounds a contest. Newton, ranked sixth in the district in scoring average, recorded a double-double in 23 of ECC’s 28 games on the season.
Newton finished her career with 1,397 points, which ranks her second in school history behind only Julie Schlimm (1,489 in 1989). A three-time First team selection, Newton is one of just four 1,000-point scorers in school history.
Kaitlyn Constantino, Sr., Clarion: Constantino saved her best for last, becoming the seventh Lady Cat to reach the 1,000-point milestone while leading Clarion to the PIAA Class 2A playoffs as the third-place team out of District 9.
Constantino, who entered the season with 794 points, ranked second in D-9 this year behind Hinderliter in points (520) and scoring average (20.0). She did more than just score, as she helped hit the boards and come up with more than her share of steals on defense to help the Lady Cats go 15-11 on the season.
She finished her standout career with 1,314 points, which third in school history behind Bobbie Simpson (1,765, 1992) and Maci Thornton (1,579, 2015).
Constantino was a Second Team selection a year ago.
Marcy Schindler, Sr., Brookville: Schindler, now a three-time TCS/CE First Teamer, has been a strong presence in the post throughtout her Lady Raiders’ career, and her senior season was no different.
She scored 345 points on the year, averaging a double-double 14.4 points and 11 rebounds a game, while helping Brookville win its third straight District 9 Class 3A title during a 12-12 season. She also averaged 2.5 blocks a game.
Schindler finished her career with 988 points, the most of any Lady Raider to not reach the school’s seven-member 1,000-point club. She finished with more than 800 rebounds, which ranks second in school history.
Selena Buttery, Soph., Brockway: Buttery was a do-everythiny type of player for a young Lady Rovers squad, having the ability to handle and distribute the ball while being a strong player in the post.
She is part of a strong group of underclassmen who helped Brockway go from 3-19 a year ago to 12-11 this season before seeing their season end in the opening round of the D-9 Class 2A playoff at the hands of Ridgway.
Buttery scored 255 points (11.1 ppg) while pulling down 281 rebounds (12.2 rpg). She also blocked an impressive 117 shots (5.1 avg) while averaging 1.8 assists and 1.5 stealsa game.
Kaylee Muccio, Sr., St. Marys: Muccio was the leading scorer and rebounder on a Lady Dutch squad that was the epitome of being balanced while posting an 18-6 record and finishing as the D-9 Class 4A runner-up to Punxsy. St. Marys had a 10-player roster, most of whom saw close to equal minutes when all were healthy.
Muccio finished the year with 226 points (9.4 ppg) and 162 rebounds (6.8 rpg). She also was second on the team in assists (42,1.8 avg.), and steals (56, 2.3 avg.).
Abby Guiher, Jr., DuBois: Guiher was the field general on the court for the Lady Beavers and part of a strong junior core that lead DuBois to its second playoff in as many years before going more than two decades without one.
She led DuBois in points (280, 11.7 ppg), assists (57) and steals (55). She made 52 of 205 3-point attempts on the season and shot 72.7 percent from the foul line (40 of 55).
Christina Fullem, Sr., Ridgway: Fullem was the engineer behind Ridgway’s big turnaround under Bennardi, as she helped lead the Lady Elkers to a 17-8 record and the school’s first playoff win in 21 years.
Fullem averaged 10.3 points and just under six rebounds a game in Ridgway’s slower tempo, defense-first style that Bennardi brought with him after serving as an assistant under Ridgway boys coach Tony Allegretto for many years.
Danielle Wood. Soph., Brockway: Wood formed a strong 1-2 sophomore punch for the resurgent Lady Rovers this season.
She led the team in scoring (269 points, 11.7 ppg) and steals (53, 2.3 avg.) and was second in assists (49, 2.1 avg.) and blocks (25, 1.1 avg.).
Morgan Johnson, Sr., Brookville: With Schindler patrolling the post in recent years for Brookville, Johnson has been a steadying force at the guard position during that time while giving the Lady Raiders another solid scoring threat during its run of three straight district crowns.
She scored 250 points this season (10.4 ppg) and finished her career ninth in school history with 922.
Saige Weible, Jr., DuBois: Weible put together a strong junior campaign for the Lady Beavers and arguably was DuBois’ best player coming down the stretch run of the season.
In the postseason, she scored career-high 21 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in a 46-43 come-from-behind win against Bellefonte. She then posted a team-high 12 points in a season-ending 62-36 loss to Hollidaysburg in District 6/8/9/ Class 5A semifinals.
Weible shot 46.4 percent from the field on the season and finished second on the team in points (224, 9.3 ppg) and rebounds (146, 6.1 rpg). She also had 22 assists and 21 steals.
Brockway: Morgan Lindemuth, Jr.
Brookville: Madison Johnson, Sr.; Lauren Hergert, Sr.
Clarion: Jordan Best, Soph.; KK Girvan, Sr.
Clarion-Limestone: Frances Milliron, Soph.
Curwensville: Alyssa Bakaysa, Soph.
DuBois: Olivia Johnson, Jr.
DuBois Central Catholic: Shayleigh Gulvas, Sr.
Redbank Valley: Alivia Huffman, Fr.; Lauren Smith, Sr.
Ridgway: Gabbi Rohr, Sr.
St. Marys: Megan Quesenberry, Sr.