Mariah Ward struggled yesterday to find decent cellphone reception.
As she would learn, it wasn’t exactly the best day for that to happen, as Ward was one of three area players to make the Pennsylvania Sports Writers Girls Basketball All-State Team.
“My dad was trying to call me, and he said, ‘What’s wrong with your phone.’ ” Ward explained. “I said, ‘Where I’m at right now, I don’t have good reception.’
“He was ecstatic.”
Ward was a second team pick in Class A. She was joined on the team by Carmichaels senior Morgan Berardi, who was a third team choice. McGuffey sophomore Sammie Weiss was chosen to the second team in Class AA.
After making the team last year, Ward worried that a slight dip in numbers and a 9-13 season for youthful Monessen would have an effect. It did not.
Ward averaged 18.4 points per game to finish her career with 1,476 points. She also averaged 5.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.1 steals per game while earning Observer-Reporter first team All-District honors.
“I didn’t expect to make it,” said Ward, who plans to play college basketball for La Roche College. “I felt like I didn’t do as well as last year. But I didn’t have the same team as last year. So I was surprised.”
Berardi, who was also an Observer-Reporter first-team All-District pick, averaged 17.3 points, 7.7 assists, 4.4 steals and 3.5 rebounds per game.
She finished her 88-game career with 1,260 points and 573 assists, ranking second and first in those categories in school history.
“It’s definitely really exciting,” Berardi said. “There were a lot of good players in there, so it was an honor to be picked as one of those players.”
Weiss, the Observer-Reporter’s Player of the Year, found out on the softball bus, alongside her mother, Paula, who’s an assistant coach. Both, predictably, went nuts.
“I was shocked,” said Weiss, who averaged 26.7 points per game while leading the Highlanders to the PIAA Class AA playoffs for the first time. “I didn’t think I would get it because I thought you had to make it further in states. I was wrong, and I was pretty happy.”
The teams are based on nominations submitted by sports writers from across the state, including the Observer-Reporter. The boys teams will be released today.