A season of three-peats for Zehner
Family and basketball have always gone together for Amy Zehner.
Growing up, when she wasn't playing in her own games, Zehner watched her sisters, Kelli and Lori, play in their Tamaqua High School games.
One of the highlights of Zehner's season was beating Central Catholic in this year's district title game and gaining just a big of revenge for a loss Lori's team suffered to the Vikettes in the 2000 title game. That loss started a streak of Central Catholic titles that Amy's team put an end to this season.
"It was fun when we beat them," Amy Zehner said. "[Lori] came running up and I put the medal around her head."
That win was the highlight of Zehner's season, which saw her earn a third straight District 11 title, a third straight All State selection and a third consecutive TIMES NEWS Player of the Year.
The Tamaqua senior scored 23 points per game for a Lady Raider team that went 27-1, losing only in the state playoffs.
Her scoring average is just part of the story. She was the leader and go-to player for one of the best teams in the state. It's what she's done for all four years of high school and she's gotten progressively better at it each year.
Along with being the team's top scorer, she averaged 12 rebounds and nearly three steals per game. She shot 47 percent from the field and 67.4 percent from the free-throw line.
But what matters to her more than those numbers is that her team enjoyed success this season.
"I couldn't have gotten those individual awards without the team's success or the teammates that I had," Zehner said. "The chemistry we had this year, it just made it so much better of a run and so much more fun. It meant so much to us."
Zehner entered this season with two All State selections already on her résumé, a third team selection as a sophomore and a second team selection as a junior, both in Class AA.
The Raiders moved up to AAA this season and she repeated the success, this time making first team All State.
Zehner scored over 20 points in 19 of her team's games and topped 30 twice. She did it while defenses focused on stopping her. And she did it by playing team basketball.
"The game plan for every team, every night," said Tamaqua head coach Joe Berezwick, "was to see what they could do to stop her.
"The biggest praise I can give her is that she was able to take her talent and make the team so much better. I can't say enough about what a team player she is. Her teammates really respected her and loved playing with her."
Zehner started her basketball career in grade school playing for Tamaqua biddy teams. By high school she was one of the area's best players and began to focus on basketball year round.
After her sophomore season she joined the Lehigh Valley Vipers AAU team. The next year she began playing with the Philadelphia Rebels, an AAU team ranked in the top 10 in the nation.
"The competition they play is ridiculous," she said. "I played against the No. 1 player in the country."
A natural 3-guard/forward, Zehner played some point guard in AAU, which improved her ball handling and court vision while impressing college coaches. She landed a scholarship to play at Bucknell University, a Division I school and her sister Lori's alma mater.
This spring she's playing varsity softball, the first time she's played another high school sport since ninth grade. She's enjoying the season, but already thinking about her first year of college basketball.
"I'm trying to get into the weight room as much as I can right now," she said. "I'm trying to get quicker. I'm doing some conditioning stuff. When summer gets here my coach is going to have me on a workout plan."
Zehner will likely go on to even more success in college, both on the court and in the classroom, where she also excels.
But she'll never forget the season she and her teammates enjoyed in her final year playing for the Raiders. How they became a family through their commitment and effort toward achieving a goal.
"It was awesome," she said. "I had the time of my life this season. It was incredible. I couldn't put this season into words and how much fun we had and how much we all can together as one. We came out to play every single game. We just played as a team and you don't find that very often."
Teams like this year's Lady Raider don't come around often. And players like Amy Zehner don't either.