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The Central PA Elite club had a successful run last year, but the program will have a new look in the spring. While many of the players will be different (along with the name, because the program was called South Central Select last year), Coach Tina Klotzbeccher-Thomas once again is expecting outstanding results.
“We lost five players from last year, so we had to add five players, but I’m really excited about this team,” said Klotzbeccher-Thomas, who is the mother of Maryland All-American Alyssa Thomas. “I think we are going to have a tough little team. We will be physical and athletic.”
That team will make one of its first appearances at the 2014 Deep South Classic, which will be played in on April 25-27. Now in its 17th year, the Deep South Classic annually hosts many of the nation’s elite travel teams in a field that will eclipse 200 squads, and hundreds of collegiate coaches will be on hand searching for talent. The 2014 event will mark the second year that the Deep South Classic has been held at the Raleigh Convention Center. The venue was a tremendous success in its debut last year, with all games played at one site on 18 courts, and it is in a convenient central location.
Two returnees who should be headed for a big summer are Amari Johnson (2015, 6-0, F) and Kyla Irwin (2016, 6-2, C).
“Amari is an extremely physical player, and she has those broad shoulders that coaches love. She is a very athletic scorer,” Klotzbeccher-Thomas said. “Kyla has great moves in the post, and she is really tough to defend. She is a daughter of a coach, and it shows. She can take people off the dribble, and she does all the little things like good help defense.”
That duo will be supported by a pair of new additions — Alexis Lewis (2015, 5-9, W) and Tori Lesko (2016, 5-10, W).
“The coaches haven’t seen Alexis because she hasn’t really traveled, but they are going to love her,” the coach said. “Her brother (Geno) is a wide receiver at Penn State. Alexis has a great pull-up jumper and a good all-around game. Tori is a crafty player with the ball. She sees the floor very well, she is a great passer, and she has a lot of effective moves.”
Bret McCormick, the analyst for the All Star Girls Report, gave his perspective on the Central PA Elite standouts:
Amari Johnson: “Johnson is a very good athlete who is a 4-3 player. She can compete inside, she can take it coast to coast, and she has nice elevation on her jumper.”
Kyla Irwin: “Irwin is a strong, physical player who can score down low, and she can step out for the mid-range shot.”
Alexis Lewis: “Lewis is an athletic off-guard who can go to the basket, and she has good shooting range.”
Tori Lesko: “Lesko is a good athlete with a high basketball IQ. She sees the floor, has great skills, and she can shoot the three.”