Trio from area selected for annual all-star game

Most high school basketball seniors have played their final game for their respective schools.

For a select few, however, there is still some hoops to be played.

And three Hood County ladies will be doing so Saturday night in Mineral Wells as part of the annual Chicken Express All-Star Classic.

Granbury guard Ashley Bonugli and post Lilley Vander Zee have been chosen to play for the West Team, while Lipan point guard Rhiana Michou has been named to the West Team in the game that annually pits some of the best senior players from around North Texas.

The game is billed as the North Texs area’s oldest and most recognized event of its kind. This season will be the 24th annual contest sponsored by the Mineral Wells Chamber of Commerce and Chicken Express.

The girls game will tip off at 6:30 p.m. Saturday with the boys game to immediately follow. No Hood County players were selected for this year’s boys game.

The game, along with being a fun event, also offers seniors who have yet to sign a college letter-of-intent another chance to showcase their skills for scouts. Players such as Bonugli, for example, said Lady Pirate coach Leta Andrews.

“Ashley is working out every day as hard as she can work,” said Andrews. “That girl’s going to land somewhere, I guarantee it.”

Bonugli was a major factor in the Lady Pirates advancing deep in the Class 4A playoffs the past two seasons – the regional semifinals in 2012 and the regional quarterfinals this season.

Michou was a four-year varsity member of the Lipan Lady Indians and helped them reach back-to-back Class A Division II State Tournaments as a sophomore and junior, including a runner-up finish in 2012. For much of her senior season the Lady Indians were ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in the state, bowing out in the third round of the postseason.

“I’m super excited for Rhiana,” said Lipan coach Amber Branson. “She has been a great point guard and leader for us the last four years. She is very deserving.

“It’s a fun way to end her years as a Lady Indian.”

For the 6-4 Vander Zee, her college future was determined even before she began her senior season. She committed to the University of Texas last summer.

Vander Zee, a two-time all-state selection, was a four-year varsity starter for the Lady Pirates, helping them reach the playoffs each season. Her greatest games came during the run to the regional semifinals in her junior season. It was the Lady Pirates’ deepest playoff run since the 2002-2003 season.

“I’m glad they made it,” said Andrews. “I hope they go up there and have a great time.”

The selections this year continue a longstanding traditiion of Hood County teams having players participate in the annual contest.

The players in the game were nominated by coaches from 60 schools in the 14 counties surrounding Mineral Wells. All players selected have honors ranging from all-tournament to all-state.

As an added attraction, there will be a 3-point shooting contest at halftime of both games.

[email protected] com | 817-573-7066, ext. 256