CALIFORNIA Pa.– Last weekend, 37 travel teams from four states descended onto the historic campus of California University of Pennsylvania to take part in the sixth annual USJN Three Rivers Challenge. The early June event has traditionally drawn a mix of national, regional and local level talent to get an early look at who they may see on the recruiting circuit in July.
The WPA Bruins swept the three age group championships, but not without some stiff competition and a few nail-bitters.
By upsetting the Erie Saints Chuzie team 52-51 in pool play Saturday, the WPA Bruins Murray team was a bit of a surprise finalist in the 16/17 age division. The 17/16 final would put the Bruins against powerhouse Central PA Dynamite. The Bruins jumped to an early lead and fought off many charges from the Dynamite to win a close one 58-53 to take the Elite level championship.
The Bruins are led by 5-5 point-guard Maria Cerro (2019). A handful from the three-point line, Cerro has a quick first step, and an engine that gets her to the basket strong and quick along with a hint of flash to her finishing abilities.
Without exception, the best player on the Convocation and Hamer Hall courts this past weekend was the Central PA Dynamite’s Allison Campbell (2020) who already holds offers from defending NCAA Champs South Carolina and dozens of other D-I schools. After a growth spurt, Campbell is now pushing the limits of the 6-foot mark. That length and a lightning first-step make her a blur to defenders in the half-court. An ever-improving perimeter game to go with the top-shelf ball-handling will make Campbell just about unstoppable in the near future.
With all their players in either the 2020 or 2021 graduating classes, the WPA Bruins DeRubbo team is a legitimately talented U14 team. It comes as no surprise that they can play themselves into higher, stronger age divisions. In what turned out to be the best game of the Sunday lineup, the Bruins barely hung on to beat a very tough CRONS 16 team that wouldn’t go away by a final 54-53 margin.
Megan McConnell is a tough point-guard with a pedigree to match. The McConnell family is basketball royalty in western Pennsylvania and Megan is the latest to pick-up that banner and carry it through the high school ranks. The 2020 grad has extraordinary ball handling skills and court vision that are far above her 5-4 frame. She is efficient with the ball, can knock down the three in many ways and plays hard-nosed defense, usually on the opponent’s best ballhandler.
Another 2020, Riley DeRubbo is quickly emerging as one of the foremost all-around talents in the greater Pittsburgh area. At 5-9, the former forward has been forced to learn the guard position in high school. DeRubbo possesses the ball-handling and shooting skills necessary to play all both the wing and the point positions, her mid-range pull up is deadly. Riley can take the occasional miss-match down low and show off some of her post moves or do what she does best, slash and draw contact.
The CRONS are a well-balanced group, but at times this past weekend Jaylen Hoffmann (2019) caught our eye. A 5-4 Guard covers a lot of ground, she plays fast with a purpose. She has a nice, smooth mid-range game and really gets after it defensively.
In the U13/14 age group the Bruins Lewandowski U14 team wore out a tired Philadelphia Belles 13 Halligan group, that was playing its 5th game in 23 hours over two days. Despite successfully slowing the tempo early, the Belles succumbed to the Bruins transition game and fell 44-33.
At 6-0 tall and a rising tenth grader Kylee Lewandowski is a legitimate wing player with the skills to go with it. Smooth as glass with her ability to take defenders to the basket and finishes leads even the most ardent observer to think that there may still yet be another gear to call upon.
Philadelphia Belles kids are always tournament tough and Emma Garris of the Philadelphia Belles 13 Halligan is one of those battle-tested players. The 5-11 guard is tough in traffic and can score from anywhere. It is Garris that the Belles turn to when they need something to happen.
Kaitlyn Ammons – 2021 – 6-2 – Forward – Morgantown Mustangs – Athletic, long and lean…Quick off her feet…Can score around the hoop with both power and touch…Has both back to the basket and face-up scoring moves that include a lefthanded turn in baby hook-shot
Madison Demski – 2018 – 6-2 – Forward – Erie Saints 17 Chuzie – Committed: College of the Holy Cross…Good touch around the basket, finishes strong…Soft hands…Foul line jump-shot is money…Solid low block post moves…Runs the floor…Hi basketball I.Q
Laryn Edwards – 2018 – 5-7 – Guard – WPA Bruins 17 Zeise – Lightning quick first step…Plays fast…Can get into tight spaces to create scoring opportunities…Scores at the hoop…Relentless motor that affords her share of steals and run out baskets…Strong ballhandler with a ton of moves in her bag of tricks
Ariana Goitz – 2019 – 5-8 – Guard – WPA Bruins 17 Murray – Whether driving to the hoop or getting her feet set for a jump-shot, has a scorer’s mentality…Solid ball-handling skills…Quick first step…Gets up and down very quickly
Dionna Gray – 2022 – 5-3 – Point Guard – Pony Express 13 – Good decisions in transition…Pass first point-guard, but has scoring ability…Solid ballhandler…good first step
Alyssa Hyland – 2018 – 5-7 – Guard – WPA Bruins 17 Zeise – Pure three-point shooter…Scorer’s mentality… Has a knack of instinctively knowing where the three-point line is…Gets her feet down and set quickly…Can get to the hoop and makes good decision’s when in traffic…Reads passing lanes defensively…Out in transition can score with either hand
Mackenzie Hurd – 2022 – 5-8 – Forward – Team Ohio 13 – Runs the floor hard in transition…Scorer in the lane…Tough around the basket…Athletic…Developing guard skills for the next level
Tess Meyers – 2019 – 5-9 – Guard – WPA Bruins 14 Lewandowski – Has no conscience from the perimeter…Shoots well off the dribble…Solid guard frame allows her to play strong in traffic
Molly Mraz – 2018 – 5-8 – Guard – Erie Saints 17 Chuzie – Committed: University of Richmond – Great footwork and form…Pure jump shooter…Knows where the hoop is in traffic…Can score in tight or beyond the arc
Mya Murray – 2020 – 6-2 – Forward – WPA Bruins 14 DeRubbo – Keeps her hands high…Finishes strong around the hoop…Solid rebounder, quick off her feet…Face-up game is her strength…Has work to do on the perimeter game
Sydney Palermo – 2018 – 6-2 – Forward – Erie Saints 17 Chuzie – Committed: Bowling Green University…Solid low post player…Strong inside presence…Aggressive defensively…Good hi-post shooter and passer
Caranda Perea – 2020 – 6-2 – Forward – Central PA Dynamite 17 – Will be a wing at the next level, has the body type to be that player…Strong scorer inside…Is a threat with or without the ball in transition…Has 3-point range…Plays team ball and hard all the time…Has improved by leaps and bounds since we saw her last
Sydney Reed – 2018 – 5-4 – Point-Guard – Central PA Dynamite 17 –Can handle herself with anyone…Hoop smarts in all phases of the game…Very comfortable living in three-ville…Head is up when she gets into the lane…Takes on the tough assignment defensively
Ashley Robbins – 2018 – 5-4 – Point Guard – Steal City 17 Costa – Quick first step…Very good around the basket…Strong ballhandler…Doesn’t back down from pressure
Brynn Serbin – 2019 – 5-4 – Guard – Drill for Skill 16 Vannoy – Plays hard on both sides of the floor…Can hit the three…Tough competitor…Solid ballhandler