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Perea, GW a match for some time now

It’s official — Altoona Area High School basketball standout Caranda Perea will play collegiately at George Washington University.

Perea signed a National Letter-of-Intent Monday in the William P. Kimmel Board Room at AAHS.

“I had about 20 offers,” Perea said, “and I committed very early. I actually committed to GW going into 11th grade and I really didn’t see myself going to any other schools.”

Perea is undecided on a course of study, but hinted at economics.

“I really want to be a college coach,” she said. “That’s what I really want to do.”

The Colonials play in the Atlantic 10 Conference and are coached by former UConn star Jennifer Rizzotti, who coached former Altoona standout Darby Lee at the University of Hartford.

“I called her (Lee) before I committed and asked her about Coach Rizzotti,” Perea said, “and she told me nothing but great things.”

Perea praised her AAU program, Central PA Dynamite, noting coach Mike Reed gave the team and players a lot of exposure through various tournaments around the country.

“I grew so much as a person with the Dynamite and Coach Reed,” said Perea, who played with the AAU program from 5th grade through 11th grade.

Perea joined the Altoona High team as a freshman and said the coaching staff, headed by Miriam Colledge, did a good job of including her in the program.

“They helped grow my game, made me into a guard and helped expand my game,” she said. “They did a lot with the program.”

A three-year letter winner, Perea was a member of the 2019 AAHS District 6 championship team, was a Mid-Penn Conference first-team all-star selection and a Altoona Mirror second-team all-star.

A 6-foot-2 senior, Perea expects to play both forward and guard for the Lady Lions, who have a new coach in Chris Fleegle.

“When he got the job, he called me and told me his goals.” Perea said. “They’re the biggest goals you can have — win districts and states — and that’s what you want to hear.

“I expect us to achieve those goals,” she said. “He’s probably the most cerebral coach I’ve ever played for. He’s smart and knows how to use his pieces well.

“I think I’ll play a lot of 2-guard, help bring the ball up the floor, and do whatever I need to help us win,” Perea noted. “I can also go in the post … just do whatever we need.”

Fleegle said the Lady Lions will rely on Perea’s leadership.

“She’ll have to lead the players on the floor,” Fleegle said. “She’s always been a very good player and has had a lot of talent around her. Now she’s going to be the focal point so her leadership is very important for us.

“I’m excited to work with her during her final year as a Lady Lion.”

Other AAHS signees

Four other AAHS student athletes — Maggie Fox, Rylie Boutiller, Brayden Henninger and Brendan Kuhns — also signed letters Monday.

Fox also considered Wheeling Jesuit before committing to Saint Francis University for track and field.

As a sophomore, Fox finished third in the District 6 100-meter hurdles and was a member of the second-place 4×400 relay team. As a junior, she was on the 4×400 championship foursome that qualified for the PIAA state championships.

“Running at Saint Francis is a great opportunity for Maggie and we couldn’t be happier for her,” said AAHS coach Paula Foreman. “She is focused, driven and willing to do whatever is asked of her.”

Boutiller, a four-year letter winner for the Altoona cross country and track teams, will continue her cross country career at California University of Pennsylvania.

Henninger, a four-year member of the AAHS cross country and track teams, will run collegiately at Seton Hill University in Greensburg.

Kuhns, who plays baseball for the Mountain Lions, signed with Mansfield University and expects to play the outfield.

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