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Blue Star High School Invitational Preview (Jan. 8 @ Jefferson)

01/05/2023, 12:15pm EST
By Owen McCue

Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)
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Some of the top teams and players in the country are headed to Jefferson University on Sunday for the Blue Start High School Invitational.

The 30-team and 15-game event features several of the area’s top programs along with others from the Mid-Atlantic Region. Here’s a breakdown of the day’s schedule:

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Jim Munn Memorial Bracket — Court 1


Upper Dublin freshman Colleen Besachio and the Cardinals tip-off Sunday's action against West Catholic. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

Upper Dublin vs. West Catholic (9 a.m.)
Both established programs are in the midst of youth movements this season. Upper Dublin freshmen Megan Ngo and Colleen Besachio have made an immediate impact at the varsity level, and the same can be said for Burrs’ freshmen Ciana Blake and Jalyn Moore alongside senior Amina Reid.

Friends’ Central vs. Spring-Ford (10:20 a.m.)
A powerhouse local contest features the undefeated Rams against a 12-3 Phoenix squad, both groups having challenged themselves a ton already this season. Spring-Ford is led by junior guards Mac Pettinelli, Anna Azzara and Katie Tiffan and senior forward Meg Robbins (Elizabethtown). Sophomore 6-3 forward Logyn Greer, who has a host of D-I offers, has stuffed the statsheet this season for FCS, while senior guard Sanaa Garrett and several others can go off in any given game.

Archbishop Wood vs. Manasquan (N.J.) (11:40 a.m.)
Manasquan already took down one PCL power, Archbishop Carroll, earlier this season. St. Joe’s is among the list of schools to offer their junior guard Hope Masonius. Sophomore guard Olivia Shaughnessy has been their other top scorer. We haven’t got to see much of Wood locally this season, but senior forward Deja Evans (Albany) and senior wing Kara Meredith (Holy Family) are part of a deep veteran core that also includes sophomore D-I prospect Emily Knouse.

Paul VI (Va.) vs. Archbishop Carroll (1 p.m.)
Paul VI handled Archbishop Wood last month and gets a crack at another PCL squad on Sunday. Junior 6-2 forward Laura Williams has offers from Pitt and Clemson and junior guard Sadie Shores and sophomore wing Riley Hamburgers are two more future D-I prospects on a roster that also includes seniors Louis Volker (Missouri State) and Brooke Batchelor (NYU). The Patriots are led by senior Army commit Taylor Wilson and her sister, junior Brooke Wilson, another D-I prospect.

Long Island Luthern (N.Y.) vs. Georgetown Visitation Prep (D.C.) (2:20 p.m.)
Long Island Lutheran junior 6-5 forward Kate Koval, the No. 17 player in HoopGurlz 2024 rankings leads ESPN’s No. 1 team in the country alongside three other nationally-ranked prospects in Kayleigh Heckel, Syla Swords and Shy Hawkins. Georgetown’s senior 5-11 wing Fadima Tall (Princeton) and senior wing/forward Simone Lewis (Holy Cross) and junior guard Emma West is another D-I prospect in a game that will have talent spread wide across the floor.

South Shore (N.Y.) vs. Bishop McNamara (Md..) (3:40 p.m.)
Bishop McNamara 6-2 forward Qadence Samuels (UConn) is another highly-touted recruit in Sunday’s field. The Eagles go deep with junior Madisen McDaniel (No. 8 2024) and talented sophomores Zhen Kraft (No. 14 2025) and Theresa Hagans. South Shore senior guard Racky Kane recently committed to LIU and classmate Kayla Hopson is another college-level talent. Juniors Ariel Little and Yahmani McKayle are all-state players.

Rutgers Prep vs. McDonough School (Md.) (5 p.m.)
McDonough junior 6-3 forward Kennedy Ume is one of the top 2024 players in the country, and senior guard Makaela Quimby (Wake Forest) and senior forward Anaiah Jenkins (Towson) are D-I commits. Senior Paris Locke is another D1 prospect and freshman point guard Autumn Fleary already has D-I offers and national attention. Rutgers Prep is led by junior guard Mikayla Blakes (another national 2024 prospect) and 6-foot senior guard Katie Ledden (Rhode Island). Freshman 5-10 guard Gigi Battle is an impact player and junior guard Zahra Alexander is another to keep an eye on.

Paul VI (N.J.) vs. Morris Catholic (N.J.) (6:20 p.m.)
Two nationally-ranked squads face off to conclude the day’s action. Morris Catholic enters undefeated, while Paul VI’s lone loss came by three to Long Island Lutheran. Paul VI senior wing Hannah Hidalgo is a Notre Dame commit and HoopGurlz No. 5 player in the 2023 class. Junior guard Shariah Baynes is another future D-I player and junior sharpshooter Eva Andrews is the team’s second top scorer. Morris Catholic has a twin backcourt of sophomores Mia and Mya Pauldo. Mia is HoopGurlz No. 8 2025 prospect. Their squad goes a bit deeper with senior Natalie Stoupakis (Scranton), sophomore guard Danielle Matus and 6-3 junior forward Alexis Rosenfeld consistently filling up the box score as well.

Nancy Dougherty Memorial Bracket — Court 2


Notre Dame senior Annie Greek (Susquehanna) is among a long list of committed players in Sunday's event. (Photo: Owen McCue/CoBL)

Notre Dame vs. Imhotep Charter (9:10 a.m.)
One of a handful of local matchups in the event features an interesting Inter-Ac vs. Public League tilt. Senior wing Samya Stevens has been one of the top players in the Pub since she was a sophomore and is now guiding the Panthers as a senior. The Leprechauns are led by senior forward Katie Halligan and senior guard Annie Greek (Susquehanna) and have a strong crop of talented youngsters.

Sanford (Del.) vs. Audenried (10:30 a.m.)
Audenried sophomore guard Shayla Smith (24.1 ppg, 16.7 rpg) has a collection of D1 offers and can get going in a hurry, while junior forward Aniyah Howard is a double-double machine. Seniors Dallas Pierce (UMass) and Zy Kilgoe and sophomore Jada Snow lead the way for Sanford, which was undefeated before a loss to Westtown heading into the new year.

Westtown School vs. Shabach Christian (Md.) (11:50 a.m.)
Last season’s PAISAA champion Westtown has seniors Grace Sundback (Delaware) and Joniyah Bland-Fitzpatrick (Seton Hall) and junior high-major offeree Zahra King leading the charge. A pair of high-level 8th graders — Jordyn Palmer and Jesse Moses — are at the forefront for a strong Moose team as well. Florida commit Laila Reynolds, a senior 6-foot-1 five-star guard, is Shabach’s team MVP, while 6-foot junior Drew Alexander and 5-10 sophomore guard Crystal Hardy have been two more standouts for the team this season.

St. John’s (D.C.) vs. Penn Charter (1:10 p.m.)
Penn Charter has been plenty tested already and will have its hands full again against nationally ranked St. John’s College. Senior 6-2 forward Delaney Thomas (a Duke commit), junior 5-9 guard Kyndal Walker, a top 2024 recruit, and junior Tatum Greene, another high-major recruit, are among SJC’s top threats along with junior forward Carolae Barton, who has Navy, JMU, Marshall among her D-I offers. Penn Charter eighth grader Ryan Carter, who already has high-majors offering, has taken the area by storm this season. Seniors Aleah Snead (St. Joe’s), Bella Toomey (Fairleigh Dickinson) and sophomore Kaylinn Bethea, who has most of the Ivy along with Villanova and St. Joe’s among her long list of college suitors, are all up for the task as well.

Riverdale Baptist (Md.) vs. Immaculate Conception (N.J.) (2:30 p.m.)
Riverdale has a pair of D-I senior commits in 6-1 forward Kamari Sims (George Washington) and 5-11 guard Yanniah Boyd (Binghamton). Freshman 6-foot wing LaBrea Carter received a Temple offer this fall. Senior guard Tyonna Bailey (St. John’s) has filled it up for Immaculate Conception this season. Junior forward Brenae Jones and sophomore forward Nila Giraud are two of the other key pieces along with senior point guard Ore Ogunwolere.

Neumann-Goretti vs. Ursuline Acad. (Del.) (3:50 p.m.)
The Saints are relatively young outside of  5-10 senior guard Amirah Hackney and 5-8 senior guard Saneaj Tyler. Hackney and sophomore guards Carryn Easley and Amaya Scott have been the Saints’ top threats thus far. Ursuline, Delaware’s top-ranked team, is undefeated, including a win over PW, despite being super-young. Eighth grader Taylor Brown already has an offer from Delaware and classmate Jezelle Banks has high-major attention.  

Cardinal O’Hara vs. George School (5:10 p.m.)
The last local contest of the day features one of the area’s perennial powers against one of the area’s up-and-coming programs. O’Hara has sophomore wing Molly Rullo, whose offer list includes St. Joe’s and Drexel, and freshman younger sister Meg Rullo leading the way along with junior guard Joanie Quinn. George School sophomore 6-3 guard/wing/forward Priyanka Ponnam and junior 6-5 center Gianna Johnson are two more D-I prospects and junior guard Sophia Martinez is electric as well.


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