Fierce foes working together on same team
Mirror Classic notes
One of the most interesting dynamics of the Altoona Mirror Basketball Classic is always seeing how players who were bitter rivals during the season mesh as teammates.
The last time Johnstown’s Imil Britt and Huntingdon’s Jonathan Price were at Penn State Altoona’s Adler Arena, the District 6 Class 4A title was on the line.
“We got some good work in today, and it was pretty fun,” said Price on Wednesday after practicing with his Central PA teammate Britt. “We did talk a little crap to each other in the game, so it was a little weird being teammates. Today, though, it was all fun. We’ll see how (today) goes.”
The pair of point guards will be just two of 48 all-stars participating in the 13th annual Mirror Classic today at the Adler Sports Complex. The girls game is at 1 p.m. and the boys will tip at 3 p.m.
Central’s Joey Smith will be playing for Blair County with teammates from Mountain League and fellow Class 4A rival Tyrone in Dylan Thomas and Parker Mitchell.
“It’s a little weird, because you are ‘enemies’ with them,” Smith said. “Then you team up with them, which can be weird, but it’s also fun.”
It was Huntingdon that topped Johnstown in the 4A boys final this year, but Central, Tyrone and Forest Hills made for an ultra-competitive district playoffs. Now, many of the star seniors of those programs including Forest Hills’ Ryan Richardson, will be back on the same court together.
“You know it’s competitive when we go 17-7 and we end up fourth in 4A,” Smith said. “That just proves how tough it is. Huntingdon and Tyrone were outstanding. It’s a lot of fun competing with those guys.”
Twins A.J. and Aliyah Labriola are the obvious family connection playing in this year’s Mirror Classic, but Williamsburg is bringing a pair of relatives as well.
Nick and Cassandra Michelone are second cousins.
“It’s really cool,” Nick Michelone said. “We’re the same age, and we’ve always been really close in school. To have her playing in the girls game and me in the boys game is really cool.”
JV back in action
Just a day after its heartbreaking PIAA Class 1A state championship loss to Jenkintown in overtime, the entire starting five and coaching staff of the Juniata Valley girls team attended Central PA’s Mirror Classic practice on Wednesday at the Summit.
Lady Hornets coach Rachelle Hopsicker is leading the Central PA girls team, and Taylor Leidy and Sydney Reed are members of the squad.
Another member of Hopsicker’s roster is a girl she’s had to game plan against four times in the past two years, Bishop Carroll Catholic star Alyssa Martinazzi.
“I am really excited, because she’s a great coach and they are great players,” Martinazzi said. “It’s fun to play with them instead of against them. I think we’re all pretty talented, so it should be a fun game.”
Martinazzi said it was a thrill to receive and invitation to play in the game.
“It’s kind of cool, because you get to play with some of the best girls in the area,” Martinazzi said. “You’re all on one team and then you’re taking on another team with great players, and it’s fun to see how it plays out.”