There were no district finalists or state tournament wins. There were no Heartland Conference champions either.
But do not think this was a bad year for area girls basketball. Having a once-in-decade athlete playing along with some other prolific 1,000-point scorers and some rising stars proves that. It would be foolish to remember this season for what it was not. After all, it was a lot of fun.
Coach of the Year
Second runner-up-Kevin Kurtz, Montoursville: The first-year coach enjoyed a fine rookie season, leading Montoursville to districts in a non-open format for the first time since 2003. The Warriors made a five-win improvement, defeated district finalist Danville during the the regular season and could be loaded the next few years since only one senior started. Big things could be brewing and Kurtz is a big reason why.
First runner-up-Phil Stamm, Lewisburg: As they usually do under Stamm, the Green Dragons made big strides as the season progressed. Lewisburg finished 13-10 after starting 2-5 and nearly upset state quarterfinalist Mount Carmel in the district quarterfinals. Stamm consistently gets the most out of his teams and Lewisburg could be one of the favorites in District 4 Class AA next season since all but one senior starter return.
And the winner is...Steve Sholder, St. John Neumann: The odds seemed stacked against Neumann which had only nine players, including none taller than 5-foot-8, and no JV team. The Knights also had just one senior and no juniors. Still, Sholder led this undermanned, but never out-fought team to districts for a fifth consecutive year while nearly upsetting undefeated Line Mountain in the district quarterfinals. With Sholder leading the way, Neumann has a nice foundation for future success.
Honorable Mention: Jon Weaver, Warrior Run; Chris Tibbits, Cowanesque Valley; Craig Weaver Jr., Muncy; Mike Allison, South Williamsport
Sun-Gazette All-Star Team
Jamie Steer, South Williamsport: Following in her sister Kierstin's footsteps, Steer had a year to remember, becoming a 1,000-point scorer while helping South win 21 games and reach the state tournament. The three-year starting forward averaged 16.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game while becoming a quality leader for a team that gave district champion Mount Carmel its toughest games prior to states. The bigger the games were down the stretch, the better Steer played as she rallied to top 1,000 points and become a consistent double-double threat.
Rachel Fatherly, Williamsport: The best Williamsport player since Madina Ali, Fatherly averaged a double-double for a third consecutive year while becoming the program's first 1,000-point scorer in six years. Fatherly, who averaged a career-high 17.3 points per game, was a force inside and was unstoppable at times when she caught the ball down low. She also could take her game outside, though, and even ran the offense in some pressure situations. Fatherly led the team in scoring and rebounding all three years she played varsity basketball.
Maria Morgan, Bucktail: Arguably the best freshman to come along since Tierney Pfirman, Morgan exploded onto the scene and had one of the best seasons in Bucktail history. The fast and versatile guard averaged 23.1 points per game and finished the year with 508 points. She did more than score, though, averaging 4.6 assists and six steals per game while leading Bucktail to districts for only the second time since 1999. Morgan scored 34 points in her second varsity game and topped 20 in nine of her final 11 while having no fewer than 17 in any of those games.
Meghan Trenholm, St. John Neumann: The sophomore guard had one of the most complete seasons in Neumann history and was the engine that powered this hard-working team while earning second runner-up for player of the year. Trenholm averaged 18.4 points per game and was dangerous outside or attacking the basket. This, despite teams game-planning to stop her. Just as important was what Trenholm did defensively. Despite being only 5-7, she had to play inside but held her own against taller players, averaging 8.9 rebounds, 5.4 steals and 2.2 blocks per game. Trenholm was at her best in some of her team's biggest games and had 27 points in the district quarterfinals while also breaking the program record for points in a season and highest scoring average in a season.
Steph Shamburg, Warrior Run: Another fantastic sophomore, Shamburg is the first runner up for player of the year. An offensive and defensive force, Shamburg led Warrior Run to its best season since 1999 and is as tough as she is talented. Shamburg played through a stress fracture injury in the playoffs, nearly recording consecutive double-doubles. A force inside, Shamburg averaged 17.9 points, 12.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game. Like Trenholm, Shamburg is a terrific defender as well, consistently stifling opposing post players. She averaged three steals per game and had 32 points along with 14 rebounds in a midseason win over Loyalsock.
Player of the Year
Tierney Pfirman, South Williamsport: When Pfirman was growing up, the ultimate compliment was being labeled the next Kelly Mazzante. Now, outstanding youth basketball players are being called the next Tierney Pfirman. One of the greatest players in Lycoming County history, Pfirman ended her brilliant scholastic career in impressive fashion and is a lock to become a four-time all-state selection. Player of the Year for a fourth straight season, Pfirman averaged 27.7 points, 13 rebounds, 6.1 steals and 3.7 assists per game while hitting 56 percent of her shots. The Maryland-bound senior did all this despite facing every gimmick defense imaginable. Teams sometimes had two players face guard her for much of the game but it never slowed this intense competitor who helped South top 20 wins for the third time in four years while becoming the school's all-time leading scorer. Pfirman is the second-highest scorer in Lycoming County history, finishing with 2,309 points while averaging 24.1 points per game. Pfirman also had 920 rebounds, 247 assists and 239 steals during a career that included a district title, two league titles, two state tournament appearances and 83 wins. Pfirman was named a high school All-American and will play in the NIKE All-American game in Denver March 31. It will be a long time before this area sees another player like her.
Second Team: Stephanie Painter, Cowanesque Valley (14.1 ppg, NTL-West MVP); Brooke Scott-Knecht, Liberty (19 ppg, 10+rpg); Maria Kelleher, Lewisburg (13 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.5 spg); Jordan Jones, Muncy (12.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3 spg); Tay Parker, Warrior Run (14 ppg, 4 spg, 3 apg, 3 rpg); Becca Machmer, Canton (15 ppg, 10.5 rpg, 1,6 spg)
Honorable Mention: Emily Sholder, St. John Neumann; Mikayla Andrews, Cowanesque Valley; Cassie Mitcheltree, Hughesville; Kayla Allen, Jersey Shore; Emily Conrad, Lewisburg; Chelsea Boyer, Lewisburg; Asia Ungard, Loyalsock; Cassaundra Soars, Loyalsock; Emily James, Mansfield; Jackie Hillson, Mansfield; Corrine Shafer, Montgomery; Lana Spitler, Montoursville; Brianna McLaughlin, Muncy; Courtney Ebner, Muncy; Alyssa McDonald, Sullivan County; Mackenzie Marple, Wellsboro; Lori Horton, Williamson; Aisha Evans, Williamsport
Molly Wood, Mansfield: The junior guard was a vital part of a stingy unit that helped Mansfield rally to reach districts. Wood averaged 4.5 steals per game and also was a quality scorer and rebounder for a team that could be one of the NTL-West's best next year.
Tay Parker, Warrior Run: The junior point guard ignited a tenacious Warrior Run defense and averaged four steals per game while also rebounding well at her position. Parker often jump-started Warrior Run's transition offense by making steals and was a good finisher as well as distributor.
Lana Spitler, Montoursville: The junior made a smooth transition to the basketball court after having not played the two previous seasons. Spitler was a force in Montoursville's 1-3-1 defense and led the team in steals. Montoursville featured one of the area's best defenses and Spitler was a big reason why. Always one of the fastest players on the court, Spitler also was physical and helped Montoursville routinely hold opponents to fewer than 40 points.
Kirsten O'Malley, Montoursville: While Spitler was a defensive nightmare for guards, O'Malley was the interior anchor. The freshman forward traditionally would be a small forward, but played at the back of the 1-3-1 zone. Despite giving up inches, O'Malley surrendered nothing else and made life difficult for both post players and guards who entered her territory. O'Malley also led the team in rebounds and could be one of the area's best players the next three years.
Brianna McLaughlin, Muncy: Another fantastic freshman, McLaughlin quickly became a lock-down defender who could contain or shut down some of the HAC-III's best guards. Fast and smart, McLaughlin rarely was beaten to the basket and was as good a defender away from the ball as she was on it. The freshman guard also is a good shooter and passer who could continue being a standout two-way threat for the rest of her scholastic career.
Defensive Player of the Year
Stephanie Painter, Cowanesque Valley: The NTL-West MVP, Painter was the heart of both CV's offense and defense. The senior guard averaged 14 points per game but was even more valuable on defense, consistently stifling the opponent's top guard. Painter averaged six steals per game and was instrumental to CV leading the area in points allowed per game. Painter sparked a dangerous transition game, helped CV romp to the league title with an undefeated record and blended speed, intelligence and toughness to become a shutdown defender.
(Does not signify the top underclassman, but someone who burst onto the scholastic scene or made great progress and was not a first-team all-star)
Second runner-up-Jackie Hillson, Mansfield: The junior guard had her best season, averaging 13.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game. A three-year starter, Hillson ran the offense well at times and could be part of the foundation for a league title contender next season. Hillson topped 20 points four times and had 16 points, 8 rebounds and seven steals in a critical late-season win over Williamson that allowed Mansfield to reach districts.
First runner-up-Emily Sholder, St. John Neumann: The sophomore point guard was a huge reason Neumann reached the postseason against long odds. Sholder constantly sacrificed her body and was one of the team's most banged up players but she never missed any time while averaging 10.7 points per game. Sholder can do a little bit of everything and also avergaged 5.5 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 4.1 steals per game for a team that could be dangerous next season.
And the winner is...Emily Conrad, Lewisburg: Like her older brother Travis, Conrad had a breakout season and could be one of the area's best players the next three years. The freshman guard had no difficulty adjusting to varsity basketball, averaging 9.9 points, three rebounds and 1.7 steals per game in the rugged HAC-II. Conrad is a tenacious defender who also handles and passes the ball well. She twice scored 16 points against state quarterfinalist Mount Carmel, including in a hard-fought district quarterfinal. Do not be surprised if Conrad and her teammates are in the hunt for a district crown next season.
Other underclassmen to watch in 2013: Rachel Danneker, St. John Neumann; Renee Farman, Cowanesque Valley; Megan Shaner, Hughesville; Kierra Croucher, Hughesville; Lois Lesher, Lewisburg; Kelsey Harer, Liberty; Sammi Pagana, Loyalsock; Asia Ungard, Loyalsock; Emily James, Mansfield; Jackie Hillson, Mansfield; Molly Wood, Mansfield; Kirsten O'Malley, Montoursville; Carly Mill, Montoursville; Brianna McLaughlin, Muncy; Caitlyn Garverick, North Penn; Jen Jackson, South Williamsport; Abby Fisher, Warrior Run; Sarah Grow, Warrior Run; Hannah Zuchowski, Wellsboro; Aisha Evans, Williamsport; Lydia Whaley, Williamsport.
Coach of the Year: Steve Sholder, Neumann
Sun-Gazette All-Star Team
Jamie Steer, South
Rachel Fatherly, Williamsport
Maria Morgan, Bucktail
Meghan Trenholm, Neumann
Steph Shamburg, Warrior Run
Player of the Year: Tierney Pfirman, South
Defensive Player of the Year: Stephanie Painter, CV
Breakthrough Underclassman: Emily Conrad, Lewisburg