Mars’ Olivia Donnelly beats rival in hot shot competition at Cager Classic skills event

Friday, March 24, 2023 | 10:39 PM

Olivia Donnelly and Hattie McGraw had an opportunity to settle an old Butler County rivalry Friday night at Highlands.

Donnelly, a Mars senior, and McGraw, a Knoch senior, were paired against each other in the finals of the girls hot-shot competition at the Cager Classic, with Donnelly prevailing.

Both programs weren’t at the same classification level, so the only meeting they had was a nonsection matchup.

Knoch won 46-44 in the regular season. Both programs were successful this season, with each team reaching the second round of the PIAA playoffs in their classifications.

“It was fun,” said Donnelly, who will play collegiately at John Carroll. “We scrimmaged not too long ago. We had that rival. Hattie is a good shooter, and I was excited to go up against her.”

Donnelly and McGraw’s battle was part of a skills competition at the Cager Classic that included an individual hot-shot competition, 3-point shootout and co-ed hot-shot competition.

When it came to strategy, Donnelly said she was focusing mostly on going for the most points available. With how the competition was formatted, one of the girls players shot on one side of the court while a member of the boys team shot on the other side.

She stayed focus despite music playing and a large crowd.

“I didn’t think too much about it,” Donnelly said. “I didn’t realize that there were that many people here.”

Hampton’s Brennan Murray won the boys hot shot competition and was the runner-up to Butler’s Ryan Porch in the 3-point shooting competition.

Murray said he didn’t put too much thought into strategy.

“We came here for practice yesterday,” Murray said. “We got up shots, a lot of shots. I like the post from the right wing. The No. 8 spot was too far, a lot of kids were missing from the beginning.”

Murray said he enjoyed the event overall.

“Playing against all of these kids was fun,” Murray said. “I’m looking forward to the all-star game (Saturday).”

Butler’s Hannah Aldridge won the girls 3-point competition and the co-ed hot shot competition along with Franklin Regional’s Jake Kimmich.

“At the beginning, it was kind of nerve-racking because you are out there by yourself,” Aldridge said. “Then you are sitting for anywhere up to 10 minutes. It’s nice to be out there and relax.”

Aldridge didn’t know Kimmich at all before they competed together. They came up with a quick strategy.

“Once I won the individual 3s, I was feeling comfortable with my shot,” Aldridge said. “We wanted to take turns and do what was quickest to do.”

While Donnelly enjoyed facing an old rival, it also was a good opportunity to take on old rivals in a different setting.

“It’s finally nice to play against a bunch of people you train against and some of the best players in the area,” Donnelly said.

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