Mazzante still enjoys being role model

Kelly Mazzante is the Big Ten’s all-time leading scorer. She is a three-time All-American and a two-time WNBA champion.

The Montoursville legend’s resume reads like a fine novel. But she does not consider those her greatest achievements. One can label her all those things but Mazzante prefers a more simple label.

Above all else, Mazzante is most proud of being a role model. Mazzante is the greatest women’s basketball player in area history, but also one of its best people. She has always done things the right way and has given young girls someone who can who they can emulate not just for the way she plays basketball.

“I think it’s more gratifying. Playing basketball was just a platform,” Mazzante said last Wednesday before officially retiring at the Loyalsock-Montoursville game. “More important is making a difference and being someone people can look up to. That absolutely means more than any record or any achievement on the court.”

Mazzante scored 3,270 points during her scholastic career, twice leading Montoursville to the Class AAA state final. She next conquered the NCAA, scoring nearly 3,000 points there and graduating as the 10th highest scorer in college history. She also excelled in the class room, becoming a three-time academic All-American.

Next up was a professional career that spanned eight years and included two WNBA championships in addition to stops in Italy, Slovakia, Russia and Hungary. Wherever she went, whatever she accomplished, Mazzante remained grounded and humble.

“It’s nice having her be from Montoursville,” Warriors guard Marissa Hall said. “She comes in sometimes to help us out and it’s nice to have her as a role model to look up to.”

Mazzante’s finest hour might have come from one of her darkest moments. Instead of sulking after tearing her ACL in 2010, Mazzante kept working and established the Kelly Mazzante Foundation. The foundation raises money for underprivileged children in the area. There is now a Kelly Mazzante scholarship at the high school and Mazzante personally takes those kids shopping.

“Giving back and charity is something we did at Penn State and we did in the WNBA,” Mazzante said. “To be able to do this in this town and trying to make a difference means a lot.”

When Mazzante decided to retire, giving back was a central theme. She could have done it anywhere, but she wanted to come back home and personally thank all those who have followed her career all those years. All proceeds from the game went to the Foundation so this again was a perfect platform.

And at a time when the me-first, Richard Sherman type mentality is so pervasive in sports, Mazzante remained a refreshing example for athletes everywhere even in retirement. After being introduced and receiving a standing ovation, Mazzante spent her entire speech thanking others. She then called down former Montoursville teammates Melissa Karschner and Tierney Guinter, in addition to former coach Brian Stugart. This was her night, but Mazzante instead said, “it’s all about you.”

Her playing days are over but Mazzante continues making a difference. She will forever be an example of how one can still conduct oneself at the highest level while scaling the highest athletic realms.

“There’s no way she can’t have a big influence,” Loyalsock coach Demarr Wright said. “She is a big influence on me and I don’t even play basketball anymore. If kids come here and they see the (Mazzante) shrine (in the Montoursville trophy case) and they see what she accomplished than it does have a huge impact because she she’s done and how she’s done it is absolutely amazing.”

FANTASTIC FRESHMEN: It felt like the game Saturday was slipping away as Montoursville turned a five-point deficit into a four-point lead with six minutes remaining. That was when Warrior Run freshmen Emily Webb and Madi Welliver made some of the biggest plays of their young scholastic careers. Webb hit a 3-pointer in the corner on the ensuing possession, Welliver grabbed two big rebounds and the two combined on a nice give and go to spark a big run as Warrior Run rallied for a 38-31 win.

Webb and Welliver have been instrumental to Warrior Run (13-2) having its best season of the 21st century. Webb starts at point guard in the district’s toughest conference while Welliver is the first player off the bench and looks like a potential force inside. Together, they have both the present and future liking bright at Warrior Run.

“Not many area freshmen get in the game let alone get in and produce. If they’re not in the court we’re in trouble and that’s where it’s nice,” Warrior Run coach Jon Weaver said. “We need them. It’s not like I’m playing them for experience, they’re our now and that’s what we’re counting on.”

Webb scored nine points and made four steals while Welliver added eight points, seven rebounds and two blocks. They are still learning and adjusting, but the freshmen have been difference makers.

“It’s a lot faster than junior high. It’s a lot more aggressive but I’m starting to get used to it,” Welliver said. “Going against bigger girls is a lot different because I was used to being taller than everybody now everyone is bigger or about the same size so it’s a big change but I feel more comfortable.”

Webb effectively handled Montoursville’s swarming defense and revealed her progress after struggling in the teams’ first game last month. Welliver is showing the same kind of potential that 1,000-point scorer Steph Shamburg displayed as a freshmen three years ago. Not only does she rebound and defend well, but Welliver also handles the ball well, has nice touch around the basket and has good moves.

“I knew I had to step up because if not we probably would have been down and not had that motivation to keep going,” Welliver said. “Me and Emily have always been together. We can read each other’s mind on the court pretty much.”

Webb and Welliver overcame slow starts Saturday and played their best when it mattered most late against a tough opponent that it could see again in the postseason. The experience they are gaining is nice. The prodution they are providing is even better.

“When we went down 29-25 I could see the girls going a little flat and I was thinking, ‘oh no.’ But that next possession Webb came down the floor, got the ball and hit that 3 and that was huge,” Weaver said. “You could see that sparked the defense and they came back to life. Madi grabs a huge rebound at the other end, we call timeout and set up that play and get it over the top on the backside and that was a big-time play. Our freshmen came through.”

PUTBACKS: Wellsboro (8-9) stunned NTL title contender Wyalusing, 35-32 last week before routing Williamson, 74-26. A year ago, Wellsboro rallied from a 2-7 start to reach districts and upset Warrior Run once there. The Hornets seem to be trending upward in similar fashion this season … South Williamsport has won four of its last five and is making a playoff push. The Mounties (7-9) won twice last week as Jen Jackson scored 39 points … Bucktail has just one senior but is three wins from clinching a playoff berth. The Bucks (8-7) have won three straight and Tiffany Werts (34 points, 27 rebounds) recorded two double-doubles last week while Maria Morgan had 70 points and 20 rebounds in two wins … Corrine Shaffer scored a career-high 33 points in Montgomery’s 65-48 win over Sullivan County while Dionna Satteson recorded her third double-double in the last two weeks. Cowanesque Valley’s Hayley Painter established new career-highs in points twice last week and had 30 in Saturday’s 64-52 win over North Penn … Emily Powell from Walnut Street Christian scored her 1,000th career point last Friday.

Dr. Masse’s top five in girls basketball

1. Warrior Run (13-2): Shamburg has been outstanding the last few weeks and had 16 points against Montoursville despite constant double and triple-teaming. Chloe Eisenhuth played relentless defense Saturday and was pivotal to the game’s outcome, holding Kirsten O’Malley to 10 points, most of which came in transition.

2. Mansfield (14-2): The Tigers have won nine straight and recorded a big 76-64 over 2013 state qualifier Northeast Bradford last Saturday. The Tigers already have already exceeded last year’s win total despite losing three double-digit scorers to graduation. Mansfield has one of the most balanced offenses around and has three players again averaging in double figures. Simone Lichty has come on strong, scoring 14 or more points in three of her last four games. Kaitlyn Garverick has been a huge addition and is a double-double threat every game. She had 18 points and 16 rebounds against NEB as Mansfield remained tied for first in the NTL Small School Division.

3. Muncy (14-2): The Indians are not only fighting for a HAC-III championship but also District 4 Class AA’s top seed. They would have that spot if the playoffs started tonight as they seek their fourth straight playoff berth. Muncy cooled one of the district’s hotter teams, Bloomsburg, last Friday winning 59-50 on the road. Crystal Good scored 13 points and is one of the team’s most valuable players. She is a double-double threat who also can take her game outside more than in years past.

4. Montoursville (10-6): The Warriors allowed only 25 points in a win over Loyalsock and feature one of the district’s best defenses. Bloomsburg is the only team that has reached 50 points in a game against Montoursville. The Warriors might not get one of the higher seeds in districts but that strong defense gives it a chance to win any game and makes it a serious title contender.

5. Williamsport (8-7): The Millionaires have a potent inside-outside combination and the front line of 6-footers Jahnae Hall-Gaddy and Jaynell Robinson is tough to match up against. Williamsport won only five games last year and one of the biggest hurdles this season has not been on the court but in between the ears.

“If everybody plays with confidence and energy we’re going to be a very difficult team to stop. It’s just about them believing that,” Williamsport coach Derek Slaughter said. “Winning breeds winning and we’re trying to get that mentality back this year. We’re getting there slowly. Hopefully as the second half of the year continues they start believing that we can win a district championship. A lot of times only difference between us and Hollidaysburg or State College is they step on the floor expecting to win. That’s what we have to start doing and that’s what we did (Saturday).”

Players of the week

Jahnae Hall-Gaddy, Williamsport: The junior is developing into a force and is one of the area’s strongest post players. Hall-Gaddy scored 37 points and grabbed 34 points in two games last week. She had 17 points and 17 rebounds against Loyalsock and hit 8 of 10 shots.

Game of the week

St. John Neumann at Muncy: Tonight will be the last game in which a trio of the area’s best guards the last four years (Jordan Jones vs. Meghan Trenholm and Emily Sholder) square off against each other. The three seniors have helped their respective programs have outstanding four-season runs.