By Tom Robinson
District 2 girls basketball’s best-ever showing in all-state selections was largely a shared experience.
Shared with high school teammates.
Shared with family members.
And, shared with a larger group of summer teammates.
The 10 players selected to the Pennsylvania Sports Writers All-State Teams this week include 8 who played in the JB Hoops AAU program out of Backcourt Hoops in 2019. Of those, six were on the same JB Hoops Bucci National team that finished first or second in its division in every tournament it entered.
For some, the connection to fellow all-staters, past and present, is even closer.
That was particularly true at Dunmore where Moriah Murray was a first-team selection and Ciera Toomey was a third-team selection in Class 3A.
Murray led the Lady Bucks to a 55-2 record over the past two seasons with an appearance in the 2019 state championship game before being one of the eight teams alive in the class when this season’s tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus.
Just a sophomore, Moriah Murray is already repeat first-teamer. Ashley Murray, Moriah’s sister, was a first-team, all-state selection in 2011.
Ciera Toomey immediately follows her older sister to the honors. Victoria Toomey, who recently completed her freshman season at National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Rider University, was a first-team choice in Class 3A last season after making the second team as a junior.
“It’s definitely a big accomplishment to kind of follow in my sister’s footsteps,” Ciera Toomey said.
Scranton Prep’s Rachael Rose, a second-teamer in Class 4A, and Cecelia Collins, a third-teamer, are cousins who were teammates in both AAU and high school seasons. Rose’s aunt, Missy Rose McTiernan, was also an all-stater at Scranton Prep who went on to serve as a captain on a national championship University of Connecticut team.
Rachael Rose was a third-team choice as a freshman and sophomore before climbing to second team this season for leading the unbeaten Classics to their spot in the state quarterfinals.
Like Rose and Collins, Susquehanna’s Taylor Huyck and Mackenzie Steele made the second and third team in Class A where the Lady Sabers were also alive in the state tournament. Huyck moves up from being a third-teamer last season.
“It’s pretty special considering they’re also the only two that have been named all-state in our basketball program,” said Kirk Fallon, who coached Susquehanna through the 2019-20 season before recently accepting an assistant position with the Lackawanna College men’s basketball team. “They’re really close; they’re best friends. I think for their families, for the program and for the community as a whole, it’s really special.”
Rose, Collins, Huyck and Steele were on the JB Hoops Bucci National team along with Murray and Lauren Charlton, a Dallas senior who made the second team in Class 4A.
Ciera Toomey and Old Forge junior Olivia Ciullo played together on the JB Hoops Toomey Regional team coached by Ciera’s mother, Carrie Toomey.
The other two all-state selections from District 2 were Class 3A first-teamer Kylie Lavelle from Riverside, who in earlier years had spent time with JB Hoops, and Class 6A repeat third-teamer Colette Mulderig from Scranton.
As a sophomore and freshman, Murray and Toomey are the youngest of the all-state players from JB Hoops teams.
“They’re two outstanding players, both with really bright futures,” Dunmore coach Ben O’Brien said of the combination that also landed spots as first-team NEPABasketball.com all-District 2 selections.
Moriah Murray, the only freshman to be named first-team all-state in the 2018-19 season, made an even bigger impression this season. She averaged 16.7 points, about 7 of which came on 3-pointers, while finishing as runner-up for state Class 3A Player of the Year.
“This year, I was more of a point guard, so I got the ball to my teammates more,” said Murray, who also contributed about eight rebounds, six assists and two steals per game. “Definitely, with my passing, I had to get everyone involved in the game, make sure everyone gets their shots.”
Ciera Toomey averaged 15.7 points while giving Dunmore a freshman all-state choice for the second straight season. She also provided eight rebounds, four blocked shots and three steals per game.
Rachael Rose and Collins teamed to make Scranton Prep the first unbeaten District 2 basketball team since the 1993 Carbondale boys.
Rose was named District 2 Girls Basketball Player of the Year by NEPABasketball.com.
“From the moment she accepted the ball as a point guard as a freshman until today, we’re 76-5 and haven’t lost a game in the Lackawanna League or in the district tournament,” Scranton Prep coach Bob Beviglia said. “That is as much due to her will and her resolve and her attitude as it is to anything else.”
Rose shot 50 percent from 3-point range and 86 percent from the line while averaging 19.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.4 steals during a season in which she became a 1,000-point career scorer.
Collins still hit more than one 3-pointer per game while increasingly adding inside play to her repertoire. The 5-foot-10 guard/forward shot 74 percent from the line while averaging 16.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.6 steals.
“I was able to post up a little bit and my teammates found me in the post,” said Collins, who was also a first-team all-District 2 choice. “I’ve been working on post moves and just continue to try to get better in going to the basket and shooting.
“I’ve just tried to become as versatile as I could be.”
Huyck finished her career with a school-record 1,505 points.
The Elizabethtown College commit, averaged 15.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.8 steals, 2.5 assists and 0.8 blocked shots.
Steele, a University of Scranton commit, averaged 12.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.1 blocked shots, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals.
Charlton, who will play at Division I University of Pennsylvania next season, finished her career with exactly 1,000 points despite missing half of her sophomore season and the end of her junior season with shoulder injuries. She led the Mountaineers to their first arena appearance in the five years of district championship games there, their first division title in seven years and their first state tournament victory in 17 years.
“Every box that we checked off of our team goals was so exciting for us and we’ll never forget it,” said Charlton, who was also a first-team all-District 2 player.
One of the season highlights was a chance to share the championship experience with her sister. Other than a rec league in Ocean City, N.J. where the family has a summer home, it is the only time junior Claire Charlton and senior Lauren were in a starting lineup together.
“That’s the part that I will cherish forever, being able to play with my sister and being able to be successful and make all those memories with her,” Lauren Charlton said. “It was amazing that I got to be on the court with her and she was a starter this year and did amazing this year.
“I’m so proud of her and can’t wait to see what she does next year, too.”
Ciullo was named second-team all-District 2. She averaged 18 points and 8 rebounds for District 2 champion Old Forge and led the Lady Devils into the state quarterfinals with a career-high, 35-point game in what turned out to be the season finale.
“My favorite moment is probably at the arena getting the district championship back,” Ciullo said of the victory over Holy Cross. “I know how hard the team and I worked to get that back, so to do it meant a lot to all of us.”