Riccardo highlights All-Area girls
All Beaver Local had to do is put Jenna Riccardo in the lineup and let her go.
The Beaver Local senior, the school’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, is the Morning Journal’s 2019-20 All-Area girls basketball player of the year.
Riccardo posted 20 double-doubles as she averaged an area-best 21 points and 13 rebounds in leading the Beavers to a 13-11 season.
She is a Division II first-team All-Ohioan this year and a two-time Columbiana County player of the year.
She was the Beavers’ leading scorer and rebounder the last three seasons and was second in both categories as a freshman.
Riccardo ranks first in school history with 1,767 points and 1,032 rebounds in her career.
Crestview’s Aaron Blatch is the All-Area coach of the year after guiding the Rebels to a 16-9 season with several lineups and only two seniors.
“It was a good year,” he said. “We had a ton of injuries early on.”
The Rebels were missing three starting guards at one point and junior point guard Mara Halas played injured most of the season.
“Basketball is always such a long year and you have your up and downs,” Blatch said.
Blatch guided the Rebels over the bumps, finishing 6-6 and in fourth place in the tough All-American Conference.
“I think five of the seven teams could have competed for the EOAC title,” Blatch said. “Every team in our league, other than Campbell, won a sectional.”
The Rebels’ season was highlighted by an impressive 69-53 win over top-seeded Liberty in the Struthers Division III district semifinal.
The All-Area first team is full of familiar faces as seven players return to the squad.
Columbiana senior Kayla Muslovski is on the first team a fourth straight year, while Riccardo, Lisbon junior Izzy Perez and Crestview junior Krista Perry are three-time first-teamers and Salem junior Kyla Jamison, West Branch senior Peyton Alazaus and South Range junior Izzy Lamparty are two-time first-teamers.
Rounding out the first team are Lisbon senior Maddie Liberati, West Branch senior Carly Scarpitti, East Palestine junior Joclyn Fristik, East Liverpool senior Emma Ludwig and South Range sophomore Lexi Giles.
Here is a look at the All-Area honorees:
PEYTON ALAZAUS (West Branch) — Alazaus, the Eastern Buckeye Conference player of the year, led the Warriors in scoring the last two seasons. She averaged 13.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.2 assists a game this season as the Warriors went 24-3 and reached the Division II state semifinals. She shot 35 percent from three-point range and 81 percent from the foul line. “Peyton is a pure shooter that can make a shot from anywhere,” West Branch coach Walt DeShields said. “She is a competitor that doesn’t like to lose and would tell you that she would put all the individual awards aside for the success of the team.” Alazaus set school record for most three-pointers in game (7), season (69) and career (180).
IZZY PEREZ (Lisbon) — Perez helped guide a young Lisbon team to an 11-win season. She averaged 16.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 4.0 steals a game. She holds school career records with 1,354 points, 450 steals and 359 assists. “Izzy is one of the best guards I have ever had the privilege of coaching,” Lisbon coach Jamie Entrikin said. “She is able to score and attack from just about any angle on the floor. She has a knack for making things happen when often times, it looks like nothing is there. She sees things develop way ahead of time and makes difficult passes look easy. Izzy is also a great anticipator on defense. She lets players look like they are open and then simply steals it. Something she doesn’t get enough credit for is her ability to rebound. Izzy plays hard at a speed most girls just can’t!”
MADDIE LIBERATI (Lisbon) — Liberati was playing as well as anyone in the last part of the season, finishing with a school-record 278 rebounds, including 134 offensive rebounds. She led the team in scoring (19.8) and rebounds (12.1) to go along with 2.4 steals and 1.2 assists a game. “Maddie is one of the best, hard-working, tough post players I have ever had the privilege of coaching,” Lisbon coach Jamie Entrikin said. “She has great offensive skills. She can use a variety of post moves to score inside, but can also step outside and shoot. Maddie is a tremendous rebounder. Something she doesn’t get enough credit for is her ball handling ability. Many times this season, she brought the ball up the floor for us.” Liberati’s career totals include 1,116 points and a school-record 744 rebounds.
CARLY SCARPITTI (West Branch) — Scarpitti’s play at point guard sparked the Warriors’ postseason run to the Division II state semifinals. “Carly was no doubt playing the best basketball of her career during the end of this season,” West Branch coach Walt DeShields said. “She will do whatever it took to help us win. She comes from a basketball family and has a passion and love for the game.” Scarpitti led the Warriors for the second straight season in assists (4.0) and steals (3.2), while also averaging 7.1 points and 4.1 rebounds a game. Her last-second steal that led to her game-winning free throw against Poland in the district final was the defining moment in the Warriors’ season.
KAYLA MUSLOVSKI (Columbiana) — Muslovski was the Clippers’ leading scorer all four seasons on the way to a school-record 1,825 career points. She averaged 18.7 points, 3.9 steals and 2.2 assists a game in leading Columbiana to a seventh straight league title. She also shot 57 percent from two-point range and made 44 three-pointers. “Kayla is a prolific scorer who just has a knack for putting the ball in the basket,” Columbiana coach Dave Crismon said. “She can shot the three, she can drive and score, or steal the ball and get a run out layup. It has been my privilege to be a part of that in her high school career.” In her four seasons as a starter, the Clippers went 80-17 overall and 48-0 in league play.
KRISTA PERRY (Crestview) — Perry has been the Rebels’ leading scorer the last three seasons as they have totaled 49 victories. This season she averaged 13.6 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.2 blocks a game, while shooting 74 percent from the foul line. “Krista is one of the most skilled players in the area,” Crestview coach Aaron Blatch said. “She is an unselfish, hard-working player who can score in the post, from the perimeter and from the foul line. She has led our team in scoring each of her three seasons and she has continued to improve her ballhandling and defense. Her competitiveness and versatility helped our team have a great season.”
IZZY LAMPARTY (South Range) — Lamparty averaged a team-high 16.6 points. 9.3 rebounds and 2.4 steals a game as the Raiders went 21-7 and reached the regional championship game for the first time in school history. “Her size and athletic ability gave our offense real versatility,” South Range coach Jeff Fishel said. Lamparty will head into her senior season sixth on the South Range all-time scoring list with 1,138 career points.
LEXI GILES (South Range) — Giles, who played her best in the Raiders’ tournament run, averaged 12.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.7 steals a game and was a key defender. “Lexi had a good freshman year, but made tremendous strides as a sophomore,” South Range coach Jeff Fishel said. “She was a vital part of our run to the regional finals. In the five tournament games we played, Lexi shot 50 percent from the three-point line, proving to be a handful for our opponents.”
KYLA JAMISON (Salem) — Jamison’s play was a constant force in the Quakers’ 14-10 season — three of the losses coming to Division II state semifinalist West Branch. She averaged a team-high 14.5 points and eight rebounds a game, while shooting 58 percent from the field and 88 percent from the foul line. Jamison has 966 career points entering her senior season.
JOCLYN FRISTIK (East Palestine) — Fristik has been the Bulldogs’ leading scorer the past two seasons as they have won 32 games. The Bulldogs went 15-9 this season with Fristik leading the way, averaging 18.6 points a game and shooting 69 percent from the foul line. “She is a very important part of team and was our top offensive threat this year,” East Palestine coach Will Franklin said. “A hard-working kid who deserves everything she gets.”
EMMA LUDWIG (East Liverpool) — Ludwig guided the Potters to 10 wins, including their first tournament victory since 2009. She averaged a team-high 18.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 4.2 blocks a game. “A four-year starter who grew in her abilities as a player and a leader during her career,” East Liverpool coach Bryian Burson said. “She, along with our other senior (Ciara Peachey), helped to transform the basketball program from struggling to competitive during the past three years. She has been a good player for the program during her career and she is an even better person off the court as she will be successful in whatever path she follows.” Ludwig finished her career with 1,062 points, 638 rebounds and 331 blocks.