Inaugural Girls' Basketball Senior All-Star Game a Success

In the first ever Senior All-Star Game, it was the Blue Team defeating the Purple Team 77-63. Photos provided courtesy of Donna Longacre Photography.

Dan Marsh watched the PIAA 6A Tournament unfold, and an idea began to take shape in his mind as teams from the Suburban One League dominated the tournament.

“We had five teams in the final eight in the state tournament,” said the Abington coach. “We are the best league in the state.

“I felt like there wasn’t enough recognition for the girls, like some of the kids from Pennridge who are great players and lost in the first round of districts. I just think it’s important for people to see that holistically, the SOL is the best league in the state. From bottom to top, there’s a lot of good players, and I thought it was important to show that.”

And just like that, the idea of playing a Senior All-Star Game was born. Thanks to the efforts of Marsh, that idea became a reality on Wednesday night when the Blue Team – coached by Marsh and former North Penn coach Maggie deMarteleire – took on the Purple Team under the direction of Souderton coach Lynn Carroll and Central Bucks East coach Liz Potash at Colonial Elementary School.

“There’s just not enough out there for girls’ basketball,” Marsh said. “I did invite the boys to play, but nobody got back to me. Maybe they’ll see the success of this, and maybe it can be a doubleheader next year to be able to showcase both.

“For right now, I’ll focus on the girls until one of the boys’ teams says, ‘Hey, we want to be involved.’”

The Blue Team defeated the Purple Team 77-63 in a spirited contest, but this night wasn’t about winning or losing.

“I’m really happy with the way it pulled together,” Marsh said. “I wasn’t so sure at times how it was going to come off, but I felt like we had a good crowd, and, most importantly, the kids had fun and they enjoyed it. They all thanked us, and they were able to play one last time.”

CR North’s Margolis works her magic – Becca Margolis thought perhaps she might not take Wednesday’s  Senior All-Star game all that seriously, but that was before the Council Rock North senior stepped onto the court. Margolis knows only one way to play, and there was no mistaking the impact the senior point guard – named MVP – had on the game.
“When I’m out there with a bunch of girls that are that good, I have a lot of respect for all those girls out there,” Margolis said. “I feel like playing with them is kind of an honor, so I like being competitive and I try to make it as fun as possible. Being competitive – I find that fun. It makes the game more interesting.”
Margolis paused briefly to say good-bye to teammate Sophia Mancuso.
“I loved playing with her and Tori Dowd, Kate Connolly and everyone – they were all really nice and easy to get along with,” Margolis said. “No one was a ball hog, we all got along. It was really nice.”
Margolis finished with a team-high 17 points to go along with five assists and three steals. In the closing seconds of the first half, Margolis came up with a steal and found Mancuso for a short jumper that sent the Blue Team into halftime with a 44-24 lead. Margolis and Mancuso both came up big in the Blue Team’s run, and appropriately, it was Margolis finding Mancuso for a basket to close out the game as well.
“I didn’t really have anyone from East on my team, but I had a lot of fun just going out there and playing with people that I knew,” said Mancuso, a senior at Central Bucks East. “I knew Becca and Abbey (Spratt) and a few other girls, and it was fun to mix and play with them.
“I probably hadn’t picked up a basketball since our last game, so coming out here and playing with other people you competed against – it’s fun to play together as one.”
Winning made it even more fun for the competitive Margolis.
“I wanted to win the game,” she said. “I played in the All-Star Labor Classic, and nobody really took it seriously. It was really nice to come out here and play with girls that were as competitive as me.”

PW’s O’Brien goes out in style – One day after adding 2018 PA Sports Writers 6A Player of the Year honors to her USA Today PA Player of the Year accolades, PW senior Taylor O’Brien played her final high school game at home.
The Colonials’ star – who will be taking her talents to Bucknell University – reflected on her remarkable career that included back-to-back SOL American Conference titles and trips to the state tournament as well as a district runner-up finish in 2017.
“It was very special,” O’Brien said. “There was nothing like it.
“Our basketball team was barely known. It wasn’t known by anybody. Just for us to be able to make this legacy for our school and our team and girls all around, it’s just awesome because we have been playing so hard and practicing so hard and made it as far as we possibly could and done impossible things that nobody thought we could do.”
O’Brien was the catalyst for the Colonials’ success story, and in Wednesday’s game, the senior star scored 10 points and enjoyed every minute of the experience.
“It is really cool because you’re playing against all these girls all throughout the season, and then you get to play on their team and see how they play,” O’Brien said.  “To be able to play with the top girls in the state and the top girls in our league, that has to be an amazing experience.”

Perfect ending for deMarteleire – During her 29 years as a fixture on the sidelines, Maggie deMarteleire was defined by her intensity, so it was an unfamiliar sight to see the veteran coach – a perpetual smile on her face – seated on the bench, calmly watching Wednesday night’s Senior All-Star Game.
For deMarteleire, who stepped down as head coach at North Penn at the end of the 2017-18 season, coaching the victorious Blue Team at Wednesday’s Senior All-Star game with Abington coach Dan Marsh was just about a perfect ending.
“He’s the greatest guy,” the veteran coach said of Marsh. “He sent me a text back in March and said, ‘I want to see if I can put together an All-Star game, would you like to coach?’ I said, ‘I’ll only coach if you coach,’ and he’s done a great job.
“He hardly has time to do anything else – he coaches the high school volleyball team, the basketball team and the middle school softball team. This was like a perfect way to end my career because he’s such a great guy and they’re all such great kids.

“They were such competitors, especially this one, (Becca) Margolis. Oh my god, when we played against her, I couldn’t stand her, but having her on your team – she’s the best thing ever.”
Prior to the game, North Penn senior Bri Hewlett presented a plaque to her former coach on behalf of the coaches with the inscription: “Coach Maggie deMarteleire. In recognition of all the love, caring, guidance you have provided to the many young women you have coached during your sensational career. We will all miss you.”
For Marsh, honoring the veteran coach who has accumulated more than 500 wins was a no-brainer.
“Maggie kind of surprised us all with her retirement, and I don’t think we all got to properly say good-bye,” the Ghosts’ coach said. “She’s been a big influence in girls’ basketball in the area, and I thought it was an appropriate time to thank her and be able to do that one last time.
“She’s special. She’s done great things for girls’ basketball, and when you get a chance to thank somebody like that, you should.”

Souderton seniors finish high school careers on high note – Twice in two years, Souderton saw its season come to a heartbreaking end in the state semifinals, both times on a foul call in the final seconds of the game. For the team’s four seniors – Alana Cardona, Kate Connolly, Tori Dowd and Sami Falencki, Wednesday’s Senior All-Star Game was an opportunity to close out their high school basketball careers on a light note.
“It was all about having fun,” said IUP-bound Cardona. “Maybe taking shots we don’t normally take in a game, playing loose, playing basketball. It was really enjoyable, and I think everybody here had a good time.
“Even the coaches were like, ‘Let’s just go out, have a good time. It’ll be fun.’ We were down by a lot, and we were like, ‘We’re coming back, we’re coming back.’ We never did, but we were close. It’s one nice memory with everyone.”
Connolly and Dowd played on the Blue Team while Cardona and Falencki lined up opposite them on the Purple Team, and it was Cardona and Connolly going against each other on the opening tap.
“It was so fun just seeing everyone coming out and just trying to play with each other and have the best time since it’s our last high school game,” said Connolly, who had a game-high nine rebounds. “We just tried to go out there and have fun and just play and see what happens.
“It was fun meeting up with people you played with before and having a chance to play with them again. It was a lot of fun to come out, no worries. Have as much fun as you can. I think it’s a great way to end it.”

CB South teammates do battle  – One of the interesting aspects of the game was the fact that the teams weren’t divided by conference. Instead, the coaches held a draft to chose their respective squads, so the game pitted teammate against teammate while rivals during the season played side by side.
“Going into the game, you had teammates on your team from Upper Dublin and from Souderton, and you lost to both of them, so it was a little weird at first, but everyone was in the same boat and said, ‘I haven’t touched a basketball since the season ended,’” CB South senior Maddie McShane said. “We were all messing around during warm-ups, and we were all cheering each other on and telling each other to shoot because no one really wanted to, and then Haley (Meinel) blocked me.”
“It was open – I had to,” Meinel said. “I couldn’t not.”
“You could have left me have the thunder for a little bit,” McShane said.
“I’m sorry, Maddie – next time,” Meinel said.
There was no mistaking the camaraderie the Titans – despite playing for different teams – shared.
“Me and Haley guarded each other, and it was like, ‘How am I supposed to take this seriously?’” McShane said.
“It was so fun,” Meinel said. “It was hilarious. We were laughing the entire time.”
The three CB South players may also have had the most spirited cheering section as several of their teammates made the trip to PW.
“They’re here to support (us), no matter what,” Meinel said. “It was so much fun.
“It was really bittersweet, but it was definitely a good time to play against all the girls again.”

Game time – The game itself was a spirited one. For the Purple squad, Taylor O’Brien (PW) and Haley Meinel (CB South) led the way with 10 points each while Britney James (Abington) and Mackenzie Ehresman (CB South) both had nine. For the Blue squad, Becca Margolis (CR North) had a game-high 17, Sophia Mancuso (CB East) had 13, PW senior Ali Diamond added nine, and Abington senior Sam Brusha had seven.
The Purple team opened up a 7-3 lead when O’Brien scored on the heels of a three-point play by James. Diamond buried a three from the top of the circle to give the Blue Team a 9-7 lead, but PW’s Lauren Fortescue knotted the score at the other end. Diamond finished off a fast break to put the Blue team on top, 11-9, and then it was Margolis completing a three-point play. A Margolis strip on the defensive end resulted in another Diamond fast break bucket. The quarter closed with Brusha finding Margolis for a basket and a 22-12 Blue Team lead.
Wissahickon’s Sydney Ott and CB West senior Abbey Spratt exchanged baskets, and then it was Mancuso burying a three. Hatboro-Horsham senior Lexie Brett’s bucket made it a 30-14 game, and that lead grew to 19 when Mancuso buried a three. The Blue Team took a 42-24 lead into the intermission. A pair of threes by James to open the second half helped ignite a run by the Purple Team, but the Blue Team maintained its double-digit lead on the way to the win.