Three Thorpe players named to first team
Two prime time scorers and a trio of Olympians anchor the 2019-20 Times News Girls Basketball All-Star team this season.
Seven Times News area teams qualified for the District 11 playoffs, with Jim Thorpe leading the way. The Olympians returned to the District 11 4A championship game, and earned a berth in the PIAA state tournament for the second consecutive season.
Below you’ll find the 2019-20 Times News Girls Basketball All-Stars, which features three all-staters, a 2,000-point scorer, a 1,000-point scorer and three underclassmen that are well on their way to reaching the 1,000-point milestone.
This year’s squad is compromised of first team, second team and honorable mention categories.
Emma Kuczynski, Tamaqua
... Kuczynski not only led Tamaqua as a team captain, but she led the Raiders in practically every statistical category this past season - including scoring (23.4 points per game), rebounds (10.9 rpg), assists (4.4 apg), three-pointers (33), free throws made (116), steals (4.5 spg), and blocked shots (16). “Emma is a very special player. Not only does she have outstanding skills and a great work ethic, but she has turned into a great team leader as well,” said Tamaqua head coach Erika Davis. “Early in her career, she led by her actions. But as she has grown and gained more and more confidence in herself, she has become someone who leads with her words, as well as her play on the court.”
DOUBLE THE FUN
... In 25 games this season, Kuczynski scored in bunches, finishing with 585 points. She reached double digits in all 25 games, hitting the 20-point mark 18 times and 30 points four different times. Her high game this season was a 36-point effort against North Schuylkill. She recorded 15 double-doubles and two triple-doubles.
... Kuczynski ended her career with 2,010 points. She is third on the all-time Tamaqua girls basketball scoring list behind only her coach Erika (Barron) Davis (2,317 points), and Cindy Miller (2,155 points). Kuczynski is also one of just nine girls basketball players in Times News area history to top the 2,000-point mark.
Skyler Searfoss, Jim Thorpe
... Searfoss showed her diversity this season, moving from the wing during her freshman season to more of a point guard role in her sophomore campaign. Searfoss helped lead a Jim Thorpe offense that averaged 59 points per game, dishing out five assists per game. Even in her new role, she was still able to put up solid numbers in the scoring department, averaging 15.32 ppg. “Skyler was our primary scorer last season, and we asked her to step into more of a facilitator role for us this season,” said her head coach this past season, Rob Kovac. “I think she really showed her diversity playing very well in that role. She was very efficient, took care of the ball, got people involved and still was able to put 15-plus points a night on the board.”
... Every good basketball player has a nickname, and “The Bandit” is quickly catching on for Searfoss. Her ability to read and react to the ball on the defensive side of the floor created a ton of transition opportunities for Thorpe this season, as Searfoss averaged an impressive 4.6 steals per game.
MIXING IT UP
... Despite being at the top on both offense and defense for Thorpe, Searfoss wasn’t afraid to mix it up in the paint. Searfoss did a nice job crashing the boards from her guard spot, averaging 4.3 rebounds per game, which was second on the team.
Olivia Smelas, Jim Thorpe
... There’s no denying Smelas’ post presence on the offensive side of the ball. That’s easy to see just looking at her 155 two-point field goals and 12.61 scoring per game average. But it was Smelas’ defensive presence that proved to be even more impressive, averaging 2.2 blocks per game and 5.8 defensive rebounds per game. “Olivia’s presence on both sides of the floor was game-changing. She got her blocks each night, but she would also alter shots when players got into the paint, which is just as important,” said her head coach this past season, Rob Kovac. “She was the back line of our defense, and her coverage back there allowed other players to take gambles and risks. She was really a difference-maker out there for us.”
... Smelas brought her lunch pail to the hardwood each and every night, averaging 8.6 rebounds per game on her way to amassing 10 double-doubles.
... Not many people think of assists when they think of the post position, but Smelas is a gifted passer from not just the paint, but anywhere on the floor. Smelas averaged 3.5 assists per game, which ranked second on the team.
Leila Hurley, Jim Thorpe
... Hurley was primarily an outside shooter, albeit a very good one in her freshman season, averaging 12.1 points per game, hitting 50 triples compared to 66 two-point field goals. In 2019-20, Hurley added something new to her game, as she developed her ability to drive to the bucket. The result was almost a four points per game scoring bump (15.82 ppg). Hurley hit 107 two-point field goals, almost 40 more than last season. “She added a dimension this year, and it made her more dangerous. That ability to get to the basket was big for her, and us,” said her head coach this past season, Rob Kovac. “Leila is a dynamic athlete who can run and get up and down the floor, and you have to pay so much attention to her three-point shot, so adding that to her game, it made it really tough to defend her.”
... Hurley has been one of the best perimeter shooters in the Times News area since stepping onto the hardwood two years ago for Thorpe. She already has 93 career triples, hitting 43 this season to rank third in the Times News area. What’s even more impressive is her career 37% three-point shooting percentage.
... Hurley’s three-point prowess is well known, but her efficiency as a scorer on all levels has been impressive. Hurley led Thorpe with a 55% shooting percentage on two-point shots, and an 81% percentage from the charity stripe.
Erika Dubosky, Panther Valley
... Dubosky finished second in the Times News area in scoring this season with 19.36 points per game. What makes that even more impressive is that Dubosky was the opposing team’s No. 1 target night in and night out. Dubosky hit double figures in all 22 of her games, using her almost 6-foot frame and 12 rebounds per contest, paired with her hybrid guard/forward skills, to terrorize the opposition. “The thing that always amazes me most about Erika is that teams are coming into the game knowing they have to stop her, and they still can’t,” said Panther Valley head coach “Dapper” Lynn. “We play in Division 1 of the Schuylkill League, so you’re going against tough competition every night, and she never backs down. Her ability to finish at the rim, and then step out and shoot the ball, makes it really tough to match up with her, and she worked hard to get stronger and more physical this season, and it showed.”
... Dubosky isn’t just a threat from the foul line area on in. The junior can also step out to the three-point line, as she connected on 24 triples during the season.
... Dubosky will have a shot at the Panthers’ all-time scoring mark next season, surpassing the 1,000-point plateau on Jan. 20. She needs just over 420 points to catch Nadia Gauronsky, who owns the school’s overall mark of 1,554. Dubosky is just the ninth PV girls player to reach 1,000 points, and the first since Trish O’Gurek in 2001.
Emily Titus, Tamaqua
Sydney Sevrain, Northwestern Lehigh
Ali Lister, Northwestern Lehigh
Cameron Caffrey, Pleasant Valley
Emily Shaud, Marian
Bethie Morgan, Palmerton
Paige Sevrain, Northwestern Lehigh
Brianna Moore, Palmerton
Kayla Cincilla, Palmerton
Macy Alansky, Marian
Emma Niebill, Northern Lehigh
Hailey Miller, Lehighton
Riley Wagner, Pleasant Valley
Alyssa Wagner, Pleasant Valley
Ashley James, Weatherly