It was no secret Blairsville’s MacKenzie Livingston was one of the best basketball players in the county this season. On Tuesday, she was named one of the best in the state.
Livingston, a 5-foot-7 senior guard, was named to the third team of the Associated Press Class AA all-state team, as chosen by a statewide group of sports writers.
Livingston led the Bobcats to the PIAA playoffs, a 24-2 record, and Heritage Conference and District 6 titles. She averaged 19.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 5.2 steals and 4.1 assists per game.
Although high school players cannot sign letters of intent to play at the college of their choice for a few more weeks, Livingston indicated after the Bobcats’ season ended that she “most likely” would be playing at IUP next year.
As for the rest of the team, Malia Tate-DeFreitas is leaving opposing coaches with one final reminder of just how much of a problem she was on the basketball court.
While making all-state even once is extremely difficult, Tate-DeFreitas made it look as ridiculously easy as she did putting the ball in the basket. Steelton-Highspire’s 5-foot-8 guard averaged 34.8 points during her senior year and she was voted the Player of the Year for a third time in Class A.
Archbishop Carroll’s Sarah Curran (Class AAAA), Hopewell’s Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (Class AAA) and Episcopal Academy’s Megan Quinn (Class AA) garnered player of the year honors in their respective classifications in the poll of statewide media. Spring-Ford’s Jeff Rinehimer, South Park’s Reggie Wells, Bishop Canevin’s Tim Joyce and Tri-Valley’s Bob Felty Jr. were voted coaches of the year after guiding their respective teams to PIAA championships.
“It means a lot because I think it shows I did a pretty good job helping and trying to lead my team,” said Tate-DeFreitas. “We won three (District 3) titles and two state titles — I only wish I could have won one more my senior year.”
A recruit of Division I Hampton, Tate-DeFreitas is making her fourth appearance overall on the Class A first team. Despite an ACL injury early in her scholastic career, Tate-DeFreitas still finished with 3,366 points, second only to Mount Carmel’s Maria Fantanarosa on the all-time state list.
“I think I had the natural ability, but it was also my dad and coaches pushing me,” Tate-DeFreitas said of her scoring prowess. “The standards were set even higher for me because of previous years.”
Tate-DeFreitas scored a career-high 54 points in a 69-62 loss to Class AAAA Harrisburg on Feb. 4.
“That was the best game I ever played, even though we lost. I was waiting for that game for a long time, because they are a (Class AAAA) team and because everyone thought we were going to get blown out,” Tate-DeFreitas said. “That really pumped me up.”
Even with all her accomplishments, Tate-DeFreitas had plenty of competition for the Class A award. Fellow first-teamers Tara Nahodil (Seton Hall) of Tri-Valley, Alex Ricketts (Akron) of Kennedy Catholic and Halee Adams (Siena) of Bishop Guilfoyle also are Division I college recruits. So are North Catholic’s Lauren Wolosik (Central Connecticut State), Bishop Guilfoyle’s Kayla Bates (Mount St. Mary’s) and Shipley’s Sox Alexander (St. Joseph’s). Wolosik made second team, while Bates and Alexander made the third team.
PIAA champion Tri-Valley, which stopped Tate-DeFreitas and Steel-High in the state semifinals, still had a strong showing on the Class A squad. In addition to Felty winning coach of the year, Nahodil and four-time all-state pick Weber pushed Tate-DeFreitas for player of the year. Vincentian sophomore Brenna Wise rounded out the first team.
Curran, a Drexel recruit who helped Archbishop Carroll compile a 95-20 record in her four years, edged out Cardinal O’Hara senior forward Shanice Johnson and Spring-Ford junior point guard Sammy Stipa for player of the year in Class AAAA. North Penn’s Lauren Crisler, Boyertown’s Kaitlyn Eisenhard, Cumberland Valley’s Jackie Falconer, Fox Chapel’s Erin Mathias and Reading’s Isis Thorpe joined them on the first team. All but Mathias, who has committed to Duke, are seniors.
In addition to the honors for Rinehimer and Stipa, Spring-Ford had two players on the third team: forwards Shelby Mueller and Sarah Payonk.
Walker-Kimbrough is making her third appearance on the Class AAA first team. The 5-foot-11 senior was the decisive winner when it came to voting for player of the year, and with good reason: the Maryland recruit and Gatorade Player of the Year for the state averaged 28.3 points, 10.1 rebounds and 6.8 steals as Hopewell made the second round of the state tournament before losing to eventual champion South Park by four.
“Her ability in the open floor is something you don’t see very often in girl basketball,” Hopewell coach Jeff Homziak said of Walker-Kimbrough. “A lot of guys coaches said she would fit right in on their boys teams ... She’s a special kid.”
Bethlehem Catholic sophomore Kalista Walters had the next most votes, followed closely by Lancaster Catholic senior Porscha Speller and South Park senior Shelby Lindsay. Notre Dame Academy’s Megan McGurk and Blackhawk sophomore Chassidy Omogrosso comprised the rest of the Class AAA first team.
Quinn, a Villanova recruit, headlined the Class AA team after leading Episcopal to its first Inter-Ac and Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association championships. The first team also included three players from the WPIAL (PIAA District 7) — Seton-LaSalle’s Naje Gibson, Jeannette’s Ciara Gregory and Bishop Canevin’s Erin Waskowiak — along with Morgan Klunk of PIAA runner-up York Catholic and Becky Evans of Pine Grove.