LaBrae, Canfield, Lordstown, Bristol get district honors

Getting district player of the year once is a special honor – being recognized for outstanding play.

For LaBrae’s Peyton Aldridge and Canfield’s Sabrina Mangapora, getting the honor is twice as nice.

Aldridge and Mangapora were selected as Associated Press Northeast Inland District Players of the Year in their respective divisions Wednesday for the second straight season.

Aldridge, a 6-foot-7 junior two-guard who averaged 19.6 points per game, doesn’t take this distinction as Division III Player of the Year lightly.

“This is a great honor knowing every day working hard pays off,” said Aldridge, who is being recruited by Mid-American Conference schools, Davidson, Boston College and William and Mary. “You have to realize you can’t let up.

“You earn those kind of awards by working hard.”

Canfield girls basketball coach Pat Pavlansky said Mangapora, who will attend Ball State in the fall on a volleyball scholarship, had the same dogged effort as Aldridge. Mangapora, who averaged 18.5 points per game, was the Division II Player of the Year.

“I think her work ethic has made her the player she is in both sports,” Pavlansky said.

As for Bristol, which bowed out of the Division IV boys tournament at 24-1, the Panthers had two district honorees in coach Craig Giesy and 5-11 senior Chad Oliver.

“For Chad, it’s a great honor for him,” Giesy said. “He had an unbelievable year, arguably the best individual basketball year in Bristol history. Bristol has a pretty deep tradition in basketball, so that’s saying something. The things he was able to do as a player, how he was able to lead the team, was unbelievable this year.

“It couldn’t happen to a better kid – 4.0 student. He put so much time into it this summer. His whole life is about basketball. This summer, he went to the next level. I’m proud of him.”

On the girls’ side in Division IV, Lordstown’s 5-10 junior Sarah Cash put in 22.5 points per game and was named district player of the year.

“Her work ethic is really good,” Lordstown coach Dave Smith said. “Her demeanor on the floor, she rarely gets rattled. Very smart player. She works at what she accomplishes and puts the time in.”

Lowellville coach Tony Matisi, whose team plays Maplewood in tonight’s Division IV girls regional semifinal, won Division IV Coach of the Year.

As for Cash, her demeanor on the court isn’t boisterous to say the least. She leads by example, Smith said.

“I just remember her having a bad night,” Smith said. “She said, ‘Never again.’ The very next game she turned around and scored 33.”

There wasn’t too many bad nights for Bristol during the regular season – going 22-0.

“Obviously, I didn’t think we’d be undefeated,” Giesy said. “I felt we’d have a pretty good year. We had six or seven guys that were consistently there all summer. Just from seeing that and people dedicating themselves, I believe we could have a good year. I thought 16, 17 wins, make a little run in the tourney. Obviously, we lost way early than we wanted to (Tuesday) night.

“I’d rather have this win than any accolades of coach of the year or player of the year. I’m sure Chad would say the same thing. We weren’t expected to be undefeated, but we were expecting to have a decent year with the time that we put in.”

And, like most coaches, Giesy deflects any credit for Bristol’s success.

“Any kind of coaching, it’s because of the players,” he said. “I’m not going to take much credit for that. The guys come, show up, work hard. We ask them to do stuff and they do it to the best of their ability. They did a good job of it this year.

“All the credit goes to those guys. Their the ones that had that season. They had an unbelievable run this year and as a coach, I couldn’t be more proud. I told them after the loss last night, it’s an awful feeling. But, I couldn’t be more proud of a group of individuals than I am now.”

Mangapora, who scored more than 1,400 career points for the Cardinals, leads Canfield (26-1) into Friday’s Division II regional final at Barberton High School against defending state champion Hathaway Brown, which beat the Cardinals in last year’s regional semifinal.

“We’re looking forward to the challenge,” Pavlansky said. “You have to have very good players and Sabrina is a very talented player.”

As for LaBrae, the Vikings look to go to regionals for the first time in Aldridge’s tenure. They play in Saturday’s Division III district final against Ursuline. LaBrae edged the Irish during an early December meeting at the Hope Classic in Struthers.

“We’re two different teams,” Aldridge said. “Both of our teams have improved greatly. They’re a very athletic team and can get up and down.

“I’m expecting a really good game.”