Big 30 Basketball Classic tips off new era on Sunday

There will be a strong Port Allegany presence in the Portville Central School gym for Sunday’s inaugural Big 30 Basketball Senior Classic, with former Lady Gator coaches Bob Raudenbush and Beth Scanlon helming a Pennsylvania girls’ team which includes current players Somer Buchsenschutz, Lynae Delacour, and Brooke Roys on its 12-player roster.

The games between teams of senior all-stars from New York and Pennsylvania will benefit the Big 30 Scholarship Fund, which has awarded more than 40 stipends to area scholar-athletes since its inception in 2006. The girls’ game is set for 4 p.m., with the boys’ game to follow at 6. The first six-member class of the Big 30 Basketball Hall of Fame will be announced at halftime of the latter game.

Tickets are $5 each, with T-shirts, 50-50 tickets and a raffle to win a foursome at the Big 30 Scholarship Scramble (Monday, July 13, at Bartlett Country Club) also available at the door.

Raudenbush went 108-43 in six seasons as the Lady Gators’ coach, including the 27-2 1996-97 campaign which included Port’s third District 9 Class AA championship and the school’s first PIAA playoff win, before taking over the boys’ squad for the next 12 seasons and compiling an overall record of 271-172.

The way he tells it, it didn’t take him very long to give the game’s organizers an answer:

“I was contacted a few weeks ago by the Big 30 Committee and was asked if I was interested in coaching some of the top senior female players in the area? I couldn’t say YES fast enough! I was very honored and humbled to be part of the first Big 30 Classic Basketball game,” he said. “I have always had a passion for the game as a player and have been fortunate to remain in the game as a coach. I look forward to the game on Sunday to be able to coach these talented players and always find their energy and enthusiasm to be contagious. All of these players have been tested over their careers and have an opportunity to blend their talents with other players to shine one more time.”

Seven of the top eight scorers in the North Tier League, led by Roys (15.6 ppg) and including a pair of 1,000-point-club members Latascia Shadle (Galeton, 15.3 ppg) and Otto-Eldred’s Anna Colebert (13.4), will suit up for the Pennsy team.

Raudenbush, the mentor of the last Port team to win three consecutive North Tier titles, is particularly looking forward to coaching Roys, Buchsenschutz, and Delacour, the trio from the reigning three-time champs.

“I was excited to see our Port Allegany players well represented by the selection committee and to have an opportunity to see them in action,” he said. “It is extremely difficult to three-peat in the NTL- a tribute to their talent and coaching staff!”

Although still active in the PIAA playoffs, Division 1-bound center Nate Sestina and his Cameron County teammate, Keith Spehalski, have accepted invitations to play in the boys’ game. They’ll face a New York team which includes Archbishop Walsh 1,000-point scorer John Watson, as well as Olean High’s Chuckie Martin from the four-time Section VI champs.

Rosters, supplied by game organizer Jim Melaro of the Olean Times Herald:

New York girls: Alyssa Coustenis (Salamanca), Shaina Griffin (Portville), Kasey Kane (Wellsville), Erika Lewis-Ellison (Whitesville), Liz Jablonski (Friendship), Morgan McNeil (Wellsville), Abigail Miller (Andover), Moriah Monroe (Allegany-Limestone), Jordan Pearson (Wellsville), Vanessa Pfeiffer (Franklinville), Meghan Stuck (Bolivar-Richburg), Sydney Wight (Scio).

Former Salamanca coach Colleen Weidman, who guided the Lady Warriors to the New York State Class C title in 1987, will coach the NY girls with the help of Tammy Krotje.

Pennsylvania girls: Somer Buchsenschutz (Port Allegany, 13.4 ppg), Anna Colebert (Otto-Eldred, 13.4), Lynae Delacour (Port Allegany, 8.4), Susie Guisto (Cameron County, 13.2), Rylee Lundgren (Bradford, 10.2), Taylor Morgan (Kane, 9.7), Macy Neureiter (Elk County Catholic, 10.2), Morgan Okerlund (Smethport, 15.1), Brooke Roys (Port Allegany, 15.6), Latascia Shadle (Galeton, 15.3), Julia Sweeney (Elk County Catholic, 9.7), Melody Young (Otto-Eldred, 13.2).

New York boys: Derek Brooks (Houghton), Ben Erickson (Franklinville), Jared Fish (Salamanca), Isaac Hilyer (Portville), Chuckie Martin (Olean High), Jake Nelson (Whitesville), Bryce Morrison (Randolph), Bryce Rumfelt (Andover), John Watson (Archbishop Walsh), Jordan Wonderling (Wellsville), Colton Worthington (Cuba-Rushford), Tyler Zlomek (Genesee Valley).

Long-time Portville and Olean High assistant coach Mike Blask and Mike Moses, another long-time PCS assistant, will coach the New York squad.

Pennsylvania boys: Ryan Boyer (Bradford High), Tyler Cowburn (Northern Potter), Scott Furman (Coudersport), Adam Higby (Sheffield), Zane Hodgdon (Johnsonburg), Ben MacDonald (Ridgway), Zach Reigel (St. Marys Public), Ryan Seelye (Elk County Catholic), Nate Sestina (Cameron County), Keith Spehalski (Cameron County), Mitch Struble (Elk County Catholic), Josh Tennies (Otto-Eldred).

The bench boss for the Pennsylvania boys’ team will be former Bradford Central Christian coach Jim Colestro. He will be assisted by former Bradford High coach Dave Fuhrman.

For more information, visit http://www.othbig30scholarship.org/senior-classic.html.

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