This past year, Amy Zehner helped guide Tamaqua to one of its most memorable seasons, one in which the Lady Raiders were recognized as one of the top teams in the State.
Yesterday afternoon, the State returned the favor by recognizing Zehner as one of its top players.
Chosen by a panel of writers from across the state, Zehner was selected to the 2010-2011 Pennsylvania sports writers' Class 3A All-State First Team.
It marks the third straight year that the Tamaqua senior was bestowed with statewide accolades. As a sophomore, Zehner was named to the Class 2A All-State Third Team, and as a junior, she was selected to the Class 2A All-State Second Team.
The Bucknell-bound Zehner is the first three-time All-State player coached by head coach Joe Berezwick (14th season), joining 2007 graduated Erika Barron, who was a First Team 3A selection and a Second Team 2A selection. Cindy Miller, a 1980 Tamaqua graduate, was also an All-Stater for the Lady Raiders.
"Amy has been the heart and soul of our basketball team the past few years and she's more than deserving of this recognition," stated Berezwick. "She's not only maintained her performance from year to year but she's also progressed into the player she's become. From Third Team to Second Team and now to First Team, it's just been such an honor to coach her."
Zehner, the two-time TIMES NEWS Girls Basketball Player of the Year, was certainly deserving of the recognition. In 28 games, she averaged 22.0 points per game, pulled down 11.5 rebounds per contest and had 18 double-doubles on the season. With 1,908 career points and 1,114 career rebounds, she is only the second player in Tamaqua basketball history (joining Cindy Miller) to exceed 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. Zehner's 1,908 points is third on the all-time Tamaqua scoring list behind Erika Barron with 2,317 and Miller with 2,155.
Aside from scoring and rebounding, Zehner also led the team in steals (85) and blocked shots (50).
"I'm very excited and this is a tremendous honor, but I couldn't have gotten there without the support of my coaches, teammates and parents," said Zehner. "These past few years, I've been trying to get better as a player and progress as an individual so I could help make my team better."
Zehner's play this season helped Tamaqua to a 28-1 record, a second straight Schuylkill League Championship, and its third consecutive District playoffs. It was also the third time in as many years that Tamaqua advanced into the second round of the State Playoffs, only to bow out to Oley Valley in the Lady Raiders' lone loss of the season. Tamaqua became the first basketball team in school history to have 28 consecutive wins in a single season, surpassing the 1976-77 Lady Raiders who went 27-1.
"When you look at all the success we've had as a team over the last few years, especially in Leagues and Districts, Amy's been right there in the middle of it all," added Berezwick. "She's a consummate team player and being named to the All-State First Team just puts closure to an outstanding basketball career here at Tamaqua."
Out of the 80 players selected to the All-State teams (20 players in each of the four classes), Zehner is one of just nine District 11 representatives and five Schuylkill League players to be recognized. The only other District 11 First Team selection was Allentown Central Catholic junior Kerry Kinek (18.9 points per game) who joined Zehner in Class 3A. Ironically enough, Zehner had the upper hand against Kinek this season, as Tamaqua posted a 46-42 overtime victory over Central Catholic in the District 11 Championship Game to end the Vikettes' 11 year-reign as District Champions.
"As a team, we've accomplished so much over the past few years and experienced so many great memories," added Zehner. "Being named to the All-State First Team is just icing on the cake."
Other TIMES NEWS area athletes to be named to the All-State team include Jim Thorpe junior Celeste Robinson and Northern Lehigh junior Aimee Oertner.
Robinson, named to the Class 3A Third Team led the TIMES NEWS area in scoring with 22.8 points per game and scored 30 or more points in seven games this season. She also helped guide the Lady Olympians (16-7) into the District playoffs for the first time since 2002.
"This honor just goes to show you that good things happen to good people," said Jim Thorpe head coach Rob Kovac. "Celeste is such an awesome kid both on and off the court and I think she's probably the first All-State selection from Jim Thorpe since the mid-70s."
"She's epitomized and spearheaded the resurgence our program and she's so deserving of this award. To get Third Team as an underclassman is amazing and it makes you lick your chops for what we can expect to see out of her next year."
Oertner, who led Northern Lehigh (23-5) with 17.7 points per game, was also a Third Team selection in Class 2A. After being selected to the Colonial League First Team two straight years, Oertner was the only player from the Colonial League to be included on this year's All-State team.
"Whenever you have a player get recognized for something special like this, it's something you really take pride in," stated Northern Lehigh head coach Dave Oertner. "As a coach, you're proud of what one of your players was able to accomplish, and as her father, it's obviously something any parent would be proud of."
"It's not only a great honor for her, but it's also an honor for her team as well because without them, you don't get the recognition. To be recognized at the state level, your team pretty much has to get into the playoffs. You need a good team and good teammates to get you there and this award speaks volumes for her and it speaks volumes for our team."