SCHUYLKILL HAVEN – Schuylkill County's top senior basketball players took to the hardwood one final time Friday night in the 39th Annual Senior Charity Bowl held at the Penn State University Schuykill campus.
Four TIMES NEWS area athletes donned the jerseys of the North squad, comprised of players from Marian, Panther Valley, Tamaqua, Mahanoy Area, Minersville, North Schuylkill and Shenandoah Valley. Marian was represented by Sam Faust, Ryan Karnish and Alden Whah, while Panther Valley was represented by Sam Zlock. Stephen Romanchick (Panther Valley) was also listed on the North's roster, but did not compete due to an injury.
Meanwhile, Tamaqua elected not to participate due to its Senior Prom being held last night.
The South team consisted of players from Blue Mountain, Nativity, Pine Grove, Pottsville, Schuylkill Haven, Tri-Valley and Williams Valley.
Despite both Schuylkill League Champions hailing from the South (Pottsville boys and Tri-Valley girls), it was the North's night, as they prevailed in both all-star games, with the girls winning 52-44 and the boys posting a 99-96 victory.
Typical of most postseason all-star games, defense is usually no where to be found. That was indeed the case last night, as the North defeated the South by a final score of 99-96. With only one practice under their belts, Marian head coach John Patton and his staff decided to just go with the flow, and rather than preaching X's and O's, last night's game plan was all about having fun.
"These are the kind of games where you just want to come out and have a little fun," stated Patton. "You get to play with kids you've never played with before and it's just a great event for everyone involved. I know it's a charity event, but for these guys here, it's a chance at playing in one last high school basketball game in front of a really nice crowd."
There was no shortage of shooters for either team, as both squads combined for 31 three-pointers, with the North squad accounting for 19 treys on a night where they trailed by one-point just twice all game.
"Our goal going in was to set the record for the number of three pointers – not three-pointers made, but three-pointers shot," joked Patton. "If you were the third guy to touch the ball, you probably weren't going to get a shot up. But again, it was a joy to coach these kids. They played really well and tonight was just about a bunch of great athletes wanting to have a good time."
Marian's Ryan Karnish played a big role in the North's three-point barrage with five treys and 19 points.
"This was definitely my kind of game, where you can just run up and down the court and shoot three's all night long," said Karnish. "It was a really fun environment, and it was great to play with guys that you competed against for the past couple of years."
Joining Karnish on the North was Colts teammate Alden Whah. While Whah wasn't able to get in on the long-range fireworks (0-for-2 from three-point land), he did what he does best by controlling the paint and dominating the glass.
Whah ended the night with a double-double, which included 10 points and 20 rebounds.
"Tonight was a great experience where you can just go out and have fun," stated Whah. "I was happy with my performance individually and I was happy that we were able to win as a team in our final time playing high school basketball."
North Schuylkill's Damon Meyer led the North with 23 points, including five treys, while Pottsville's Zach Wile scored 21 points to pace the South.
Over the past few years, the South squad has dominated the Senior Charity Bowl, but last night the North snapped a four-game losing streak with a 52-44 victory.
The North started the contest on an 11-2 run and never looked back as it led for all 40 minutes of the contest. While points weren't as plentiful as in the boy's game, there were just as many smiles and laughs on the court.
Marian's Sam Faust finished with two points and six rebounds for the North
"I honestly think that the big reason we won this game tonight is because we were able to have fun," said Faust. "Even though we're playing with all new teammates than what we've been accustomed to all season, we all became comfortable with each other very quickly."
Panther Valley's Sam Zlock came away with four points and hauled in 10 rebounds for the North.
"Tonight was really energetic and fun playing with kids that you got to know so well by playing against," added Zlock.
However, Zlock's "one shining moment" came with 2:30 left in the game when she orchestrated a reverse layup around Tri-Valley's 6-4 center Tara Nahodil.
Nahodil, is a First Team All-State selection and Seton Hall recruit.
"Honestly, I was just hoping not to get stuffed," said Zlock. "I just wanted to try to get around her because she's such a huge presence under the basket, and when the shot went it, it was such an exciting moment."
Sarah Walasavage from Minersville led the North with a game-high 16 points.
For the South, the Tri-Valley contingent of Nahodil and Taylor Troutman led the way with 11 points apiece.