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Seniors set to graduate to next level with honors

The end of their high school basketball careers signaled a beginning to an exciting college career for several members of the All-Western New York girls basketball team. All five players on the first team have earned athletic scholarships, with three graduating to NCAA Division I basketball programs.

Here's a closer look at the first team chosen by The Buffalo News with an assist from local college coaches, high school coaches, pollsters and game officials.

Kallie Banker of Grand Island is a repeat first-team pick. Katie Healy of Lancaster graduates from last year's second team and becomes the Redskins' first first-teamer since Sharon Gross in 1977-1978. Marah Maycock of Randolph and Cassie Oursler of Grand Island were third team picks a year ago. All five first teamers led their teams to championships whether Sectional or league.

>Kallie Banker

A big senior year capped off an impressive six-season career for Grand Island's record-setting guard. Playing against defenses that were designed to stop her, Banker still delivered, scoring 16 ppg, six rebounds and five steals. She averaged 10 assists per game, mostly to 6-foot-3 Cassie Oursler in what proved an almost unstoppable combination.

She led her team to back-to-back Section VI Class A and Niagara Frontier League titles, along with earning MVP honors of the season-opening Pastor-Cooper Tournament. In seven games against teams ranked in the Top 10 in WNY, the Vikings went 6-1.

Banker had a big postseason. In the Class A-1 semifinals against Iroquois she scored 18 points in the second half, including 14 in the fourth quarter. In the Class A-1 final against Hamburg, she netted 11 of her 15 in the second half to help her team pull out a one-point win. A solid floor game helped the Vikings pull out a win over Pioneer in the cross over. She also played well in what was a tough matchup for her team against eventual state champion Rochester East in the Far West Regionals.

Career-wise, Banker will go down as one of the most accomplished in Vikings' history. She is the program's all-time leading scorer with 1,700 points and is first in career assists and career three-pointers. In her four years as a starter, GI finished 47-9 in the NFL, including 27-1 the past two years. Overall she was 74-20 winning four straight Class A-1 crowns.

She's also a six-time NYS Scholar-Athlete, a member of the National Honor Society and found time to be the yearbook sports editor and earn all-NFL honors in volleyball. Last fall she signed a basketball scholarship to Rhode Island of the Atlantic 10.

>Marisa Guyton

Lockport senior who played her way onto the first team with a solid postseason. "She was as good a player as there was during the playoffs," said coach Bill Shaw. "Down the stretch she got better and stronger."

She had 24 points in the Game of the Year, a 57-54 win over Lancaster in Section VI Class AA final. She teamed with fellow first-teamer Emma Sobieraski to contain Lancaster's Bona-bound Katie Healy just enough to pull out the win. "She was the best player on the floor playing against a kid going to Bona, and the Player of the Year," said Shaw.

She gave a gutsy performance in a Far West Regional loss to Penfield, with 13 points and nine rebounds, despite playing most of the second half on an injured hip.

She will play her college ball at Division II Gannon on scholarship. "There's a lot of upside to her. I liked her toughness and the fact she can go inside, and when she's on her game, she's really tough to guard," said Shaw. "She can go out shoot the three well, and is a bull inside. That's a huge thing."

Guyton is a three-year starter. A solid, 6-foot frame allows her to drive in traffic and bang on the boards. Her ability to make the 10-12 footer makes her a difficult matchup for most teams.

>Marah Maycock

Talent and savvy made Maycock into one of Randolph's best all-around athletes. For starters, her resume includes an appearance in the state finals, three Section VI Class C titles and a school record 2,326 points.

She was named to the Class C all-tournament team at states after scoring 19 points in a valiant effort against Hoosic Valley in the final.

Her 460 points (19 ppg) helped the Cardinals tie the school record for wins in a season with 21. She will play volleyball collegiately at Edinboro.

Playing the point guard role, she had 112 steals, 174 assists and shot 72 percent from the free-throw line to cap her five years as a starter. Who can forget the six three-pointers she had in just the first half against Frewsburg in the Section VI, Class C title game?

Coach Shawn Huntington raved about Maycock's ball-handling skills and because of them said few teams were able to press Randolph. He added she could do so much more than score evidenced by the type of player she helped her younger sister, Mckenna, become.

Maycock led Randolph to titles of the Pine Valley and IABBO tournaments.

>Emma Sobieraski

She was the leading scorer among a formidable Lockport frontcourt that carried the team to the Section VI Class AA title. Sobieraski will take her talents as a post player to Bryant University in Smithfield, R.I., NCAA Division I members of the Northeast Conference.

Not only did she average 18 points per game, she was one of three players who averaged in double figures for rebounds. She not only could play in the paint using her 6-2 size, she also possessed a deadly mid-range jumper which she knocked down at crucial times.

"She was deadly from that spot, and that's going to go a long way to make her a pretty good college player," said Lockport coach Bill Shaw. "Our offense went through Emma. She led the team in assists. We got that ball into the high post, and Emma dealt it out. She toughened up this year and made herself into a very good rebounder."