By STEVE GOLDMAN
For the Star Beacon
When a group of basketball players who have never all been on the same unit are assembled for a one-time event, it isn’t generally expected that their team defense will excel.
Nevertheless, the Comets, who played the role of the visitors in Tuesday’s Star Beacon-Ed Batanian Senior Classic, were able to make that happen.
The Comets, who were comprised of players from Conneaut, Geneva, Madison, Riverside and Grand Valley, held the Stars to 10-of-62 (16.1 percent) from the floor, limited them to 8 points in the second and third quarters combined, and forced 22 turnovers, 18 via steals, as they ran away to a 61-25 decision at Jefferson’s Falcon Gymnasium.
The Stars featured players from Edgewood, Lakeside, Perry, Pymatuning Valley, St. John and Jefferson.
Conneaut’s Tony Pasanen, who shared the Comets’ coaching duties with Geneva’s Nancy Barbo, related that unlike boys, girls tend to concentrate more on defense in events such as this one.
“When we watch the guys play (in the second game), there will be little defense,” he said. “But girls don’t know how to turn it off and on. That’s what they do.”
“The boys are more about dunks and the girls are more about 3-point shots,” Barbo said. “(We told them), ‘Most people don’t play defense at All-Star games, but we want you to.’”
Madison’s Taylor Bland matched her teammate, Geneva’s Emily Ball, for game honors with 13 points, and added 7 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 blocked shot. She was named her team’s Player of the Game.
Ball had 6 boards, 3 assists, 1 thefts and 1 block.
Conneaut’s Natalie Bertolasio added 8 points for the Comets.
Pymatuning Valley’s Geena Gabriel, who was named the Player of the Game for the Stars, led them with 8 points.
The Comets hit just 23 of 66 shots (34.8 percent) themselves, but turned the ball over only 8 times.
The Comets grabbed the lead for good when a 3-pointer by Riverside’s Erin Fahl provided a 9-6 edge. Moments later, a 7-0 spurt, highlighted by Bertolasio’s second triple, pushed it to 16-8. Another 7-point streak surrounded the break, with Ball scoring a basket and then hitting a trey after halftime. That pushed it to 26-12, but it was a 20-point run that put it away. That stretched a 29-16 third-quarter advantage to 49-16, 3 minutes into the fourth quarter. Bland put in 9 of her points during that stretch.
Geneva’s Annaliesa Fistek had 7 rebounds and 2 blocked shots, GV’s Chris Futty 6 boards, Geneva’s Alyssa Scott 5 caroms, Madison’s Julie Gavorski 7 steals and Grand Valley’s Chelsea Stehlik 3 blocks for the Comets.
Lakeside’s Sharisse Hunt had a game-high 11 rebounds, Edgewood’s Cortney Humphrey 8 boards and St. John’s Mackenzie Stenroos 5 caroms for the Stars.
St. John’s Nick Iarocci coached the Stars along with Jefferson’s Rod Holmes.
Of course, though everyone would have preferred to win, such events are not mostly about victory and defeat.
“It’s all about getting ’em in, (having them) play a little bit, have some fun,” Holmes said. “It’s their senior year, and the pressure’s off.”
Barbo related that her Eagles hadn’t faced PV, GV or St. John during the season.
“It was fun to watch and meet some girls that I didn’t know during the season,” she said.
“(A fun part of it for me) is getting to know some of the players behind the names,” Pasanen said.
“Like we told the girls, it isn’t about whether we win or lose — it’s all about what kind of team (photo) we take — and we took a really good one,” Iarocci said.
GV’s Kelsey Merritt and Conneaut’s Brooke Bennett also played for the Comets.
Edgewood’s Carrie Pascarella and Gia Saturday, Perry’s Celeste Farrell and Gabby West and Jefferson’s Colleen O’Connor and Sarah Brook appeared for the Stars.
Goldman is a freelance writer from South Euclid.