By CLINT FOSTER
When the 25th annual Chicken Express All-Star Basketball Classic tips off on March 22, plenty of familiar faces will take the court in Mineral Wells High School Gym for teams representing the very best of high school basketball from Mineral Wells and the 14-county surrounding area.
Based on coaches' nominations, 26 girls and 24 boys were chosen from 60 different schools, each with honors ranging from all-district to all-tournament and all-state. A quick glance at the four rosters and multiple names will jump right out at any Palo Pinto County basketball fan.
Guard Courtney Peña will bring her defensive skills to the girls' West team as the sole representative for Mineral Wells High School in the entire classic. Peña earned First-Team All-District 6-3A honors after her senior season with the Lady Rams that ended with a first-round playoff loss to the Hirschi Lady Huskies.
After averaging 8.3 points per game, 3.6 steals, 4.1 assists and 4.2 rebounds this season, Peña will get to play on last game on her home court before graduation.
Also appearing on the West is Santo point guard Breeana Raffaele, who captained the Ladycats to their first appearance in the state tournament in 57 years. Averaging 8.9 points, 3.1 steals, 4.5 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game, Raffaele was named Co-Most Valuable Player of District 11-1A-I along with teammate and All-State selection Payton Billue.
Raffaele was also named to the Class 1A-Division I All-State Tournament Team.
Facing off against Raffaele on the East team will be her former Ladycats teammate, Taylor Nemeth. A first-team all-district post, Nemeth averaged 10 points, 2.2 steals, 2 blocks, 1.8 assists and 9.1 rebounds in a memorable Regional Championship campaign.
Also on the East are Gordon's First-Team All-District 17-1A-II wing Tristan Johnson and District 11-1A-II's Offensive Player of the Year, point guard Sydney Wimberly of Graford.