By Anthony Mitchell
The Daily Item
COAL TOWNSHIP —
Paige Hornung can deliver for her team, regardless of whether the stakes are high or it’s just for fun.
Much like she did when she sported a Mount Carmel uniform, Hornung was a threat from beyond the arc, helping the Northumberland County All-Stars hold off the Surrounding Counties team, 48-35, in the Northumberland County Senior All-Star game on Sunday night at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional High School.
Hornung put her team on her back, hitting a corner 3-pointer early in the second half before reverting to a pass-first guard, putting her teammates in position to score.
Playing for her high school coach Lisa Varano one last time, Hornung quickly established her shooting stroke. The former Mount Carmel guard connected on three 3-pointers, finishing with nine points.
The Surrounding Counties team — with players from Central Columbia, Bloomsburg, North Schuylkill, Selinsgrove and Danville after a pre-game roster switch — cut their deficit to five before Hornung took over.
After Hornung pushed their lead into double digits, Northumberland County — which featured players from Shamokin, Lourdes and Southern Columbia — kept their lead steadily hovering around double digits.
“It’s been a fun experience to be with teammates that I’ve never even played with before,” Hornung said. “It’s good to come back and play and let it be a fun game not a competitive (game), let’s see who wins, not for anything.”
The Surrounding Counties made a final push to trim the lead to seven, 40-33, but Hornung and Co. ended the game on an 8-2 run with Lourdes’ Rachel Schultz scoring the final two points on a layup in front of her home crowd. Four different players added two points each during Northumberland County’s run to seal the win.
“It was a lot of fun,” Lisa Varano said. “It was a lot of fun having them together. They’re all great players.”
Playing for their high school coach, Brianna Lutz and Ali Varano made an early impact in the game with Lutz taking a pass from Ali Varano for a layup to open scoring. Varano assisted on a Mackenzie Clark jumper on her team’s next trip down the floor.
Northumberland County raced out to an early 8-0 lead before Bloomsburg’s Mallory Fry answered for the Surrounding Counties team.
While Hornung carried her team in the second half, Clark was the first-half version of Hornung, driving the lane from the onset of the game, scoring six of her team’s first 10 points. Clark scored eight of her 10 points in the first half with a quick scoring spurt.
“It was good for us since we could shoot whenever,” Hornung said. “It doesn’t matter who scored the points, it didn’t matter who won. It was all for fun.”
Fry answered a Hornung 3-pointer with a triple of her own, helping the Surrounding Counties to start to chip away at an early deficit after Hornung and Clark had extended Northumberland County’s lead to 13-2.
The Surrounding Counties cut the lead to four points, 18-14 with Selinsgrove’s Laura Long scoring a pair of buckets during the run. Northumberland County led 24-17 at the half.
Long led the way for Surrounding Counties with 10 points, sinking each of her four free throw attempts.