Friday, October 18, 2019

5th Annual EST Upstate Fall Showcase: Afternoon Session Standouts

*** There were many quality players at this event, and many that had good showings, made good plays, and left strong impressions. I have not highlighted all of them here. This article points at a few that either had particularly superlative showings or were particularly impressive in my eyes compared to my previous evaluations of them. There are many that are still to come in other formats that I thought played well or had shining moments. I've taken notes on all participants from this session & have cut highlights from game film, and I'll work to put a spotlight on all deserving as time goes on!***

With the 5th Annual EST Upstate Fall Showcase now a thing of the past, it's time to take a quick look back to mention who made their mark & stood out at the event.

September 29 saw 117 athletes from NY & MA take the court at Schenectady HS. 59 of them were in the event's closing session from 1-4 PM. This included a wide-ranging variety of talent - from well-established recruits with an early working list of of Division I offers and some of the region's finest young talent to under-the-radar, local program juniors & seniors looking to work their way onto Division III radars. A few standouts, thoughts, & notes from the afternoon session, listed in alphabetical order:

Morgan Giancaterino (5'8"; Sacred Heart Academy 2022, X-Gen Elite) - What catches my eye about Morgan is how far I think she's come along in a relatively short period of time. From the first time I saw her - with her HS team in December - to her EST debut at the Summer Kickoff in June, there was development. It appears that there's been continued growth & development from June to now, as she made increased impact for her team, particularly in their first 5v5 game. She scored the ability to score at three levels, hitting a couple threes, a couple midrange Js, and also attacking the basket & finishing either at the rim or with short floaters. Her above-average length & quickness allow her to cover ground quickly and play taller at the wing than her 5'8" listing, and by consistently doing the right thing at both ends - spacing & moving off the ball, correct rotations on D, etc. - she showed that she has a good feel & understanding of the game.

Makayla McCorker (6'0"; East 2021) - The goal of EST events is to put three different kinds of players on the court - the best of today that are already well-known, the best of the future, and the best 'hidden gems' that aren't well-known yet. Put this Rochester product in the third column, as McCorker, someone who's fallen under the radar to this point, made a major impression at Schenectady. She projects as a face-up 4 at the collegiate level but has the versatility to play in the post & on the perimeter. Her length & raw athleticism were evident from the tip, and she impacted games with it throughout the day. She was able to take advantage of different matchups - went into the post and scored over smaller defenders a few times and took forwards out to the perimeter, even breaking them down off the dribble & finishing or getting to the line. She also showed comfort facing up & shooting out to about 18 feet, and the willingness to create & find teammates out of doubles or after drawing help is there as well. She also made an impact at both ends on the glass, and her motor was good through the end of the event as everyone was getting tired. If this event was any indication, McCorker won't be slept on much longer.

Avery Mills (Mekeel 2024) with Morgan Tompkins (Red Hook 2022) - also a standout at this event - giving chase
Avery Mills (5'7"; Mekeel Christian Academy 2024, NY Havoc) - One of the youngest players at the event also made one of the biggest impressions, playing well beyond her years and really standing out among some high level older players. Avery's skill with the ball in her hands is special for her age, as she's already a well-rounded scorer. Her shooting stroke is pure & she can consistently hit from behind the arc, and the handle left defenders reaching for a ghost time & time again. There's plenty of substance to go with that style though, as she showed comfort going downhill off of moves with either hand and finishing various ways around the rim. Avery also has an understanding at this point of knowing when she has a mismatch, and she doesn't let the defense off the hook for a poor switching decision, attacking the mismatch until they do something about it. The Mekeel standout made the most of her time on the court, catching eyes from start to finish.

Sophia Murray (5'4"; New Hartford 2021, Syracuse Royals) - Having watched Sophia play plenty in 2019 - with her high school team, AAU program, and at the EST summer league & both HS one-day events - I was happy with her performance at Schenectady, as she looked like she's made progression as a player in both body & mind. The combo guard has a reputation as a scorer, but she showed some more comfort playing off the ball at this event. When she had the ball in her hands though, she wasted no time, making quick moves, going downhill, & making the right read from there. She showed the range, hitting a few threes from various spots on the court and doing so both off the catch & off the dribble. Sophia was also able to attack poor closeouts, hitting the defender's outside shoulder & going straight toward the rim. Her head was up once getting paint touches, looking to find teammates, which she did on several occasions - post dumpdowns, ball-side wing kickouts, and a couple good drift passes to the weak side wing or corner. Solid overall day for Sophia, who looks to be making strides in many different aspects of her game.

Mackenna Nechwedowich (Newark Valley 2021)
Mackenna Nechwedowich (6'0"; Newark Valley 2021, Lady Sizzlers) - Along with the aforementioned McCorker, this 6 footer from outside the Binghamton area made a real impression as a general unknown in the basketball community to this point. I was a fan of hers in previous viewings at the Binghamton area Stars & Stripes Classic and at a tournament with her locally-based AAU team, but she even outperformed my expectations as a first-timer at an EST event. She has the sort of frame that a college coach would die to work with and a mountain of natural strength, but she's also quick & nimble on her feet - a load of raw talent & athleticism. She showed some refined qualities to her game though, with the ability to play in the post but also stretch to the perimeter. Her footwork is pretty sound with her back to the basket or facing up, showing various spins, steps, and at one point a reverse pivot, quick burst baseline drive, & 2 foot reverse finish. She hit a few midrange jumpers including one pulling up in transition, and although she didn't make one from behind the arc at this event, her couple attempts were on line & looked good. Nechwedowich is also active & assertive on the glass at both ends, battling for boards and finding ways to get the ball both in & out of her area. Her natural gifts, current talent & versatility are enough to make her very intriguing now, and as she spends more time playing at a higher level & getting challenged consistently, we may see that she might be nowhere near her peak.

Lauren Patnode (5'11"; Saratoga Springs 2023, Saratoga Sparks) - The weekend warrior award goes to local standout Patnode, who was able to balance the afternoon session of this event with the weekend long City Rocks Top 24 across town in Watervliet. You wouldn't have known she spent that much time playing basketball over the weekend, as she looked fresh & full of energy at Schenectady. She was strong from the start, setting the tone for her team with her motor at both ends. She turned defense into offense, turning ballhandlers over a couple times early & getting out in transition. In the half-court, hard right-handed drives turned into finishes at the rim and space turned into a few threes, one being from well behind the line. Lauren played at a different pace and with a different bounce in her step than most, which as usual, turned into positive results for her team. Another strong showing for someone blossoming into one of the 518's finest.

Lauren Patnode (Saratoga Springs 2023)
Gretchen Perine (5'3"; Baldwinsville 2022, Syracuse Nets) - As the event went on, I found Gretchen catching my eye more & more, a testament to not only her development as a player, but her conditioning as well. As the games went on and players got tired & started to slow up, Gretchen's ability to still go at full tilt was a benefit to her & her team's performance. It was more than just her being in good shape that caught my eye, however. She's developing into a PG that can put pressure on the defense and score in different ways, shown with her ability to keep a couple good defenders off balance at this event. She finishes well at the rim, particularly for her size, with the ability to bang through contact and finish softly along with crafty finishes around shot blockers. She's dangerous going to her right, but also showed ability to finish in traffic going to her left. When given space, she stepped up & knocked down a couple threes to make the defense pay. My notes on Gretchen, a recent transfer to Section 3 Class AA Baldwinsville from Section 5 Mynderse Academy, have 'looks much improved' written all over them.

Claire Pikett (Holland 2022)
Claire Pikett (6'0"; Holland 2022, X-Gen Elite) - Especially considering that Claire was shaking off the rust at this event from a nasty ankle injury suffered late in summer, her performance at the event was impressive. She's a natural 4 but shows some versatility beyond the post along with the IQ & understanding of the game to play in different spots. She's active on the glass and quickly gets the ball out in transition after a defensive rebound, and she has the comfort to push it ahead herself & lead the break if needed. Her rim runs are fast and concise, getting layups a few times by making straight line rim runs after rebounds & beating her defender up the court. Offensive, she has the ability to score with her back to the basket or facing up, and she also knows how to space & play off the ball on the perimeter. She was very unselfish - at times, I thought maybe even a little too unselfish - but her court vision was good, finding open teammates spotting up or cutting time & time again, and she made her team better. I'm looking forward to watching her more as she continues to come back from the injury.

Freey Pleasants (5'8"; Syracuse Academy of Science 2020, I-90 Elite) - If you were looking for uncommitted*** 2020s at this event, you may want to start with Freey. She did some good things in the 3v3 portion and really put her stamp on her team's second 5v5 game. She's an imposing physical presence as a guard, likely one of the strongest & most physical players in an EST jersey over the course of the day. Along with that, she's quick on her feet with a pretty quick & explosive first step, and she really made a difference for her team as she looked to create for others with the ball in her hands. The following sequence was seen several times in 5v5 play - hard middle drive to beat the first defender, make the help D collapse, come to a controlled 2 foot stop in the paint, make the right read & dump to the post or kick to a shooter. She also created for her bigs several times in the P&R game. Overall, Freey is a player that can do a bit of everything to help teams win games and has the competitive desire to win, and she showed that in a solid effort.
*** - uncommitted no more. Since the posting of this write-up, Freey has committed to Division II Queens College. Congrats!

Freey Pleasants (Syracuse Academy of Science 2020)
Reese Vaughan (5'9"; Seton Catholic 2021, BNY Select) - Reese was as good as anyone at this event, as her growth & maturation made itself evident. Not only is she improving physically, but she's becoming a more confident, more vocal player that carries a different presence on the court. Reese showcased much of what's in her bag offensively at this event. On the ball, she was assertive and not only did she look to create for both herself & her teammates, she knew when to do each. She has a quick, long first step that allows her to get by the first defender consistently. In transition, she was both tough & crafty, able to beat people to the rim and extend for finishes or find ways to finish around a defender near the basket. She played well off the ball too, moving without the ball & spacing well, and when she got a good look from the perimeter, she shot the three at a high percentage. A solid day overall for one of the Southern Tier's finest, who made her team better when she was on the court.

Reese Vaughan (Seton Catholic 2021)


Lauren Augustine (5’4”; Horseheads 2020)
Xy’el Bradford (5’5”; Syracuse Academy of Science 2020)
Jill Casey (5’11”; Horseheads 2020, Quinnipiac commit)
Brynne Gilmore (5’7”; Northern Adirondack 2020)
Freey Pleasants (5’8”; Syracuse Academy of Science 2020)
Madison Ansari (5’10”; Franklin Academy 2021)
Hailey Cascioli (5’8”; Chatham 2021)
Tessa Cole (5’6”; Sherburne-Earlville 2021)
Payton Couture (5’10”; Saranac 2021)
Molly Coyne (6’0”; West Genesee 2021)
Zyonaha Glen (5’11”; Nottingham 2021)
KJ Gordon (5’3”; Shaker 2021)
Jenna Granger (5’9”; Horseheads 2021)
Leana Heitmann (6’0”; CBA Syracuse 2021)
Jordan Hess (5’4”; Norwich 2021)
Zavia Jaime (5’7”; New Hartford 2021)
Madilann Johnson (5’2”; Horseheads 2021)
Julia Mann (5’9”; Central Square 2021)
Sarah Mattfeld (5’10”; Catholic Central 2021)
Makayla McCorker (6’0”; East 2021)
Katie Moravec (5’6”; Newfield 2021)
Kelly Moravec (5’5”; Newfield 2021)
Sophia Murray (5’4”; New Hartford 2021)
Mackenna Nechwedowich (6’0”; Newark Valley 2021)
Lauren Petrie (5’8”; Bishop Ludden 2021)
Alexis Tedford (5’5”; Maple Hill 2021)
Reese Vaughan (5’9”; Seton Catholic 2021)
Mariah Conklin (5’6”; Binghamton 2022)
Emily Delisle (5’5”; Shenendehowa 2022)
Margaret Dougher (5’6”; Norwich 2022)
Morgan Giancaterino (5’8”; Sacred Heart Academy 2022)
Mackenzie Hess (5’3”; Norwich 2022)
Sydney Huhtala (5’9”; Baldwinsville 2022)
Cecelia Lapertosa (6’1”; Whitesboro 2022)
Maren Louridas (5’11”; Bethlehem 2022)
Cristina Negron (5’7”; Williston Northampton (MA) 2022)
Gretchen Perine (5’3”; Baldwinsville 2022)
Claire Pikett (6’0”; Holland 2022)
Ruby Santos (5’10”; New Paltz 2022)
Carly Scott (5’2”; Horseheads 2022)
Morgan Tompkins (5’10”; Red Hook 2022)
Macie Trimarchi (5’10”; Colonie 2022)
Madalyn Barrows (5’7”; Oxford Academy 2023)
Ella Chandler (5’9”; Shenendehowa 2023)
Isabella Gilmore (5’10”; Northern Adirondack 2023)
Jazlynn Logan (5’5”; Rochester School of the Arts 2023)
Madison Lusk (5’5”; Albertus Magnus 2023)
Lauren Patnode (5’11”; Saratoga Springs 2023)
Gabby Sheth (5’4”; Kingston 2023)
Amarah Streiff (5’11”; Bishop Ludden 2023)
Jaiden Williams (5’7”; Union-Endicott 2023)
Milleniyah Glanton (5’5”; Newark 2024)
Avery Mills (5’7”; Mekeel Christian Academy 2024)
Aniya Rowe (5’5”; Bishop Kearney 2024)
Leah Thompson (5’10”; Hilton 2024)
Jayla Bell (5’5”; Lyons 2025)
Ava Gallup (5’10”; Webster Schroeder 2025)
Mallory Heise (5’5”; Hilton 2025)
Amaia Jackson (5’5”; Bishop Kearney 2025)

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