ELMHURST, NY - It wasn't just the boys who shined at the Wheelchair Classic All-Star Games, the girls put on a heck of a show as well.
A Queens/Long Island team took on Brooklyn in the championship game on Friday evening at Elmcor in Queens, and even though Brooklyn was able to cut a 14 point deficit down 1 early in the 4th, the depth, and the perimeter play of the Queens/L.I. squad helped them go on an 11-1 run to pull away for good, and grab the 68-51 victory. Both teams got solid performances from key players, and here are some player evaluations from some of the best from the girl's title game at the Wheelchair Classic.
A.J. Smith, 6'0" SG (Freeport '15)- 13 points for the Long Island star who averaged just under 19 points per game this year. A good sized off guard, she moved around the perimeter well, and really was solid in looking for and getting off her shot. Her primary role on Friday was as a shooter, mainly off set shots, but while maybe not as well known as some of her teammates, she had 13 points, including 3 of 5 from behind the arc. While she was basically just a perimeter shooter offensively, she played a few different positions defensively, grabbing a number of rebounds, while also being a harassing on ball defender when Queens went to the trap. She was probably the brightest star on the day, and definitely a player to watch.
Arella Guirantes, 5'11" SF (Bellport '15)- The Wheelchair Games Girls MVP, Guirantes scored 11 of her game high 19 points in the 4th quarter, going 7 of 8 from the line down the stretch to hold off any Brooklyn run. She is more of a slasher than a shooter, at least based off of her performance on Friday, showing good handle of the ball, capable of being a solid 1 if need be, but she thrived on making her way free of defenders, and then attacking them going to the rim. Unafraid of the bigger Brooklyn defenders, she showed an excellent finishing touch. She did nail the only three she took as well, proving she can be an adequate weapon from long range when she puts her mind to it.
Mei-Lyn Bautista, 5'7" PG (St. Mary's '15)- Didn't really look for her shot much of the game, but Bautista really shined in leading the offense, and creating for everyone else as the Brooklyn defense really did focus on her a lot, to the extent where for much of the game, she was able to toy with the defense, making smart pass after smart pass, especially in transition where once again, Bautista thrived. Had just 5 points so you would say knowing her scoring abilities from the point that it was a bad game, but she was all over the place wrecking havoc on everyone, and defensively she had a handful of steals, which set up Queens for many easy buckets to help them to the win.
Jen Fay, 5'10" SF (Nazareth '14)- If you have to name the bright spot for Brooklyn in this one, it would surely be Fay. The Quinnipiac bound forward, Fay was the key cog that helped cut the deficit down to just 1 early in the 4th quarter, hitting on back to back threes, and then finishing on a putback inside while being fouled. She had 13 points, 11 of which came in the 2nd half, showing a rugged toughness on the inside, while proving to be a valuable shooting threat from the outside. Those abilities will help her as she moves forward, where she will most likely be an impact player in the MAAC for the next four years.
Brianna Fraser, 6'3" PF (South Shore '15)- Fraser showed flashes of why Maryland has already snagged her services up after she finishes her H.S. career. For a girl her size, her athleticism is extremely high, and she proved that on Friday with a beautiful step out jumper, while also coming out, and when the defense challenged her, she put the ball on the floor and was able to finish going to the rim. She wasn't as aggressive on the glass though, and seemed to settle at times for the perimeter jump shot inside of trying to move inside and use her size to her advantage, but that could be a case of her working to expand her game because the tools are all there for her to be a very special player for many years to come.