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Julie Spinelli, a senior guard from St. Joseph, is the main focus of the Valley News Dispatch girls basketball all-stars

Player of the Year

Player of the Year

Julie Spinelli

5-11, Sr., G, St. Joseph

In the 2023-24 season, the St. Joseph girls basketball team made significant progress, achieving or even surpassing the goals they had established in late November.

During the WPIAL Class A semifinals on Feb. 26, two of their goals were accomplished in a game against Aquinas Academy.

The Spartans not only defeated a team that had previously been a challenge for them but also advanced to their first WPIAL championship game, an accomplishment that had eluded them in the two previous seasons.

Senior standout Julie Spinelli remarked, “Since my freshman year, we had been striving to defeat Aquinas. We had been defeated by them in seven or eight occasions. We all exerted great effort to overpower them. We were very well-prepared for that game, knowing that we could emerge victorious, and that mindset was evident.”

Spinelli led the team to a 65-56 victory, scoring the highest 32 points in the game. She made 14 of 17 free throws, contributed seven rebounds, two assists, five steals, and two blocks.

Spinelli demonstrated remarkable effort throughout the season, leading St. Joseph to the WPIAL title game at the Petersen Events Center and the second round of the PIAA playoffs.

This exemplifies the dedication Spinelli displayed throughout the season as she assisted in leading St. Joseph to the WPIAL title game at the Petersen Events Center and into the second round of the PIAA playoffs, as a commitment she made to Frostburg State.

For the second consecutive year, Spinelli has been named the Valley News Dispatch Girls Basketball Player of the Year. She stood out among a group of skilled local players, including Plum senior Megan Marston and Kiski Area senior Abbie Johns.

“I couldn’t have achieved what I did without my teammates,” Spinelli acknowledged.

“Our closeness as a team was a significant factor in our success this year. We played for each other and maintained a positive attitude in all our practices and games. When all these elements come together, you can win numerous games.”

Spinelli ended the season with an average of 21.2 points. Although her 32-point performance against Aquinas was impressive, she achieved a season high of 36 points in a regular-season game against the Crusaders, in a challenging 66-62 overtime loss.

She also contributed 35 points in a crucial 68-59 victory over Redbank Valley, the District 9 Class 2A champion, on Jan. 31.

The well-rounded senior, who achieved 20 or more points on 13 occasions, also averaged 6.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 3.3 steals as the Spartans attained a 22-5 record and secured both a first PIAA playoff home game and their first PIAA-tournament win.

First team

Adah Fuller

5-10, Sr., F, Knoch

The Knights continued their streak of WPIAL and PIAA playoff appearances, and Fuller performed exceptionally in her final varsity season. She averaged 11.5 points and 4.6 rebounds, with a 51% field goal percentage, and made 34 3-pointers, contributing to Knoch's 15-12 overall record and 7-5 mark in a challenging Section 1-4A.

Abbie Johns

5-10, Sr., G, Kiski Area

Johns, a four-year starter for the Cavaliers, consistently delivered, averaging 18.5 points over 22 games and excelling in the paint and on defense. She achieved a 77% free-throw percentage and made 53 3-pointers. This Shippensburg recruit, selected for the Section 1-5A first team, receives her second first-team all-star title after being on the third team in her freshman and sophomore years.

Megan Marston

5-8, Senior, Guard, Plum

Marston averaged 18.8 points and 4.0 assists to earn first-team honors for the second consecutive year. She scored her 1,000th career point in a Section 1-5A win over Woodland Hills on Jan. 2. Marston, also a first-team all-section selection, will continue her basketball career at Division II Case Western Reserve.

Kate Myers

5-7, Senior, Guard, Highlands

Myers caught the attention of opposing coaches and teams once again this season as she remained a significant threat from the 3-point range. When closely guarded at the perimeter, she was able to share the ball. This contributed to success in the season game plan, which led senior-heavy Highlands to finish second to WPIAL power North Catholic in Section 1-4A and qualify for the PIAA playoffs for the second consecutive year. Now a two-time VND first-team selection, Myers played a crucial role in the Golden Rams’ effort to make the PIAA tournament. She scored 20 points, including six 3-pointers, in a dominant win over section rival Greensburg Salem in a PIAA play-in game. Myers, who reached 1,000 career points in a win over Mars at home on Dec. 28, fittingly with a 3-point shot, will continue to play college basketball at Division II Pitt-Johnstown.

Gia Richter

5-4, Junior, Guard, St. Joseph

Richter was the only underclassmen starter on a senior-heavy St. Joseph team which repeated as section champion, set an all-time record with 22 wins, and made history with a first-time trip to the WPIAL championship game and its first-ever PIAA-playoff win. The quick guard averaged 11.1 points and 4.3 rebounds while leading the team in assists (2.9) and steals (3.5). She was a third-team VND selection as a sophomore.

Second team

Jocelyn Bielak

5-8, Senior, Guard/Forward, Highlands

Anna Kreinbrook

6-2, Senior, Center, St. Joseph

Kalleigh Nerone

5-5, Senior, Guard, Highlands

Pascale Olczak

6-1, Senior, Forward/Center, Plum

Katerina Tsambis

5-5, Junior, Point Guard/Guard, Riverview

Third team

Lola Abraham

5-5, Senior, Guard, Riverview

Gianna DeVito

5-10, Sophomore, Forward, Kiski Area

Naturelle Ewing

5-8, Senior, Guard, Knoch

Julianna Fisher

5-11, Junior, Forward, Burrell

Sophia Yard

5-6, Senior, Guard, Apollo-Ridge

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