Valley’s Carter sweeps Cager Classic skills competition

Friday, March 22, 2019 | 10:43 PM

It was never a secret Valley senior Nyjewel Carter was one of the top shooters the Vikings had this season; now he can stake his claim as one of the top shooters in the Alle-Kiski Valley

Carter made history by becoming the first person to win all three events at the 23rd annual Cager Classic skills competition Friday night at Highlands.

“It’s good but you have to stay humble, and it’s a good feeling to have,” Carter said. “It’s good to represent my school, and I’m just looking forward to college and the all-star game tomorrow.”

Carter and 47 other senior boys and girls basketball players showed off their skills in three events: individual hot shot, 3-point shooting and co-ed hot shot contests.

Carter, who represented the East squad, started his night by beating Deer Lakes’ Colin Kadilac, 48-19, in the individual hot shot event.

“It’s exciting and it’s good to meet new people,” Carter said.

Carter said it’s much easier to come out and take shots when the game is not on the line.

“There’s no pressure at all, just fun,” Carter said. “There’s a lot of good players in this gymnasium, and it’s definitely good to wrap it up and get to know them more.”

Carter remained hot and came back in the 3-point contest to knock off Freeport’s Jalen Brown, 15-10.

“Shooting isn’t really my strong point, so I was really surprised to be there in the first place,” said Brown, a LaRoche basketball commit. “It’s fun to compete. It’s nice to make all of the memories with the the kids you’ve competed with during high school and get to know them a little bit better.”

Carter teamed up with Armstrong’s Madi Lorigan to defeat the West squad tandem of Emilee Altman (Butler) and Mike Zolnierczyk (Springdale), 38-22, to win the co-ed hot shot competition.

It appears that the East girls team has all the shooters this year, as the squad swept all three events and placed the most shooters in the top five of each competition.

Apollo-Ridge’s Maddy Moore made the trip to last year’s Cager Classic to support her teammate Megan Ost. This year, Moore was looking forward to playing in the event.

“I love representing my school, and it’s really nerve racking,” said Moore, a Seton Hill commit. “It’s great being able to play with everybody.”

Moore was able to calm the butterflies long enough to win the girls hot-shot contest by narrowly defeating Deer Lakes’ Abby Buechel, 35-34.

Buechel almost suffered another narrow defeat in the girls 3-point shooting contest but won the tiebreaker over Plum’s Kelsi Zik. Both shooters tied at 9-9 but Buechel swished more red, white and blue “money balls” to get the win.

“It’s a fun experience, especially because I got the other three players on my team with me,” Buechel said. “It’s nice to come out here and compete against everyone who is really good, as well.”

The Cager Classic will pick back up at Highlands on Saturday evening with the girls all-star game starting at 5:45 p.m. followed by the boys all-star game at 7:45 p.m.

“It’s a lot of fun, a great time and a great event,” Moore said. “It means a lot to me to be here.”

William Whalen is a freelance writer.

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