Skip to main content

All-Stars cap their high school basketball careers with a competitive game full of laughs

Summit vs. Stark County exhibition "was a good opportunity to just seal the deal," Alyssa Ziehler says.

BARBERTON, Ohio — Wednesday was a good night for star gazing in Barberton.

For one last time, some of the best senior girls basketball players from Summit and Stark counties took the floor when they played in the Magic City Kiwanis Summit vs. Stark Senior All-Star Game. 

The game featured 15 players who learned earlier in the week that they had earned All-Ohio honors, including first-teamers Bailey Shutsa of Norton and Jenna Smith of Garrettsville Garfield.

It ended up being more competitive than most All-Star games, with Stark defeating Summit 55-49, while Meredith Randulic of Massillon Perry (Stark) and Alyssa Ziehler of Green (Summit) took home MVP honors for each team.

“It’s a lifetime experience,” Ziehler said. “Getting together at the end of the season and being able to play with girls from all over the area that you have seen play is so much fun.”

The team from Stark County included multiple players from the Federal League, including league player of the year Breezie Williams from GlenOak. 

Also playing were first-team all-conference players Randulic, Emma Dretke of Jackson plus second-team all-conference honorees in Perry’s Mia Guscoff, GlenOak’s Kylie Dyrlund and North Canton Hoover’s Angela Roshak.

Instead of fighting one another in league play (or in the postseason), the girls had a chance to play as a team and enjoyed it.

“It was a lot of fun getting to play with girls you have gone up against the past couple of years and beat each other up,” Randulic said. “And now we get to play together.”

Guscoff led the Stark team with 14 points, including four 3-pointers. A couple of those shots came off assists from Randulic, something the two have done many times throughout their high school career for the Panthers. 

The final assist and bucket between the two came on the game’s final possession for Stark when Randulic found Guscoff in the right corner for the 3-pointer that iced the game.

“We’re used to that,” Randulic said. “I’m going to miss that.”

While the Stark team had five players from the Federal League, the Summit County team had just one — the game’s leading scorer in Ziehler. 

The first-team all-league selection scored 18 points in the losing effort once the Summit County team got its offense going after a scattered start.

“Our offense was kind of crazy at the beginning, so we just needed to slow it down and wait to get open cuts,” Ziehler said. “Once we were able to get it spread out and find the gaps at the right time and feed each other, it started to work out.”

The Summit County team included two players of the year in their respective conferences: Smith (Mahoning Valley — Grey) and Laurell Brown of Cloverleaf (Metro Athletic).

One of the fun storylines to follow throughout the game was the friendly rivalries among players who are teammates on the AAU circuit. The Ohio Xtreme team had five players in the game — Williams, Dretke and Northwest’s Carly Spradling for Stark and Ziehler and Kristin Chmielewski of Stow for Summit.

“Getting to play with my AAU friends, we were all laughing all the time so that was so much fun,” Ziehler said. “I’m just glad I had the opportunity to play with them one more time.”

One of those moments of laughter came in the first half when Williams drove the lane but was blocked by Chmielewski. 

The 5-foot-5 Williams and 5-foot-11 Chmielewski shared a laugh after the play and then again when they were paired up against each other later in the possession.

Williams got her revenge later, as she showed her quick first step and drove to the hoop for a layup. 

She also showed her ball-handling skills later in the game on a crossover and step-back jumper attempt. It was that ability that had her friends joking about having to guard her.

“We know everyone’s tendencies,” Ziehler said. “It’s like we know Emma wants to shoot the 3 and Breezie will cross me up. We were joking and texting like, ‘I better go get my ankles triple taped’ because Breezie is unbelievable.”

For the Stark team, Randulic scored 12, Dyrlund and Minerva’s Jenna Cassidy each scored six, Dretke had five, Grace Lyon of Fairless and Roshak each added four, while Williams and Spradling scored two each.

“It was kind of cool, honestly, to get to play with a bunch of Federal League schools when I am from a small (Division 3) school,” Lyon said. “It felt like I was a part of the team. Only one player didn’t score, and everyone else was on the board. That was pretty awesome.”

All but one player scored for Summit County, as well. Along with Ziehler’s 18 points, Regan Simpson of Wadsworth scored nine, AnTaniyha Easter of Barberton had seven, Highland’s Madsion Miller had four, Chmielewski, Smith, Brown, Annie Watson of STVM and Kenmore-Garfield’s Quimari Shelton each added two and Shutsa had one.

Win or lose, the girls all seemed to have a blast getting out on the floor one more time with familiar faces and put a cap on their high school careers.

“I feel like it was a good opportunity to just seal the deal,” Ziehler said.