Saturday, July 12, 2014

An All-State friendship

Falcone, Barber earn All-State soccer nods

February 01. 2014 1:42PM
By Tom Robinson For the Sunday Dispatch

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Allie Barber started her night at Pittston Area being recognized for the goals she scored on the soccer field.

Barber then started the basketball game showing her ability to set up baskets by teammates.

At the conclusion of Thursday night’s junior varsity basketball game, Barber was honored with a plaque commemorating her selection as the first Pittston Area girl to be named all-state by the Pennsylvania Soccer Coaches Association. That recognition is largely the result of how quickly — and how often — Barber can produce a score on the soccer field, with a sudden burst of athleticism.

Scranton Prep midfielder, Elana Falcone, a Jenkins Township resident, was also named to the all-state team. While playing for the Classics, Falcone was named the 2011 Times-Tribune Player of the Year, a 2012 All-Region selection and a three-time Lackawanna League Division 1 first-team all-star selection.

In 2012, Falcone scored four goals through the District 2 tournament, eventually helping the Classics to a second straight title. She assisted teammate Jacquie Graham’s goal in a historic school win over Northwestern Lehigh in a PIAA game.

But that was just the beginning.

In 2013, Falcone led the Classics to a 9-0 win over West Scranton in the Lackawanna League Division 1 title. In that game, her hat trick gave her the school’s scoring record. That was back on Oct. 14. Falcone, a senior, has committed to Temple University to play soccer.

Falcone’s national signing day with Temple will be on Tuesday, Feb. 11.

Barber and Falcone have held a friendship both on and off the field. They grew up playing intramural soccer together for the Pittston Stoners.

With the basketball game on the line Thursday, Barber showed she could be relied upon to contribute points in a different way. Taking a deep breath at the foul line and calmly preparing for each shot, Barber hit four straight free throws in the final 35.7 seconds to produce the game’s final four points and lift the Lady Patriots over Dallas, 52-47, for a win that gave them a chance to play for first place in Division 1 of the Wyoming Valley Conference later this week.

“At the end, I knew we needed those foul shots,” Barber said. “They’re key. I knew I missed half of them in the beginning of the game and the middle, but I knew I had to pull through and make them for my team.”

Barber was just 3-for-6 at the line on the night before connecting in the final minute to finish with 11 points and eight assists. She had seven of those assists in the first half, breaking down the Dallas defense to set up 3-pointers by Eastin Ashby and inside baskets by back-up forward Marley O’Brien.

“She had a lot of key passes underneath,” Pittston Area coach Kathy Healey said.

After helping Pittston Area to a second-place finish in the Wyoming Valley Conference, Barber said she has not touched a soccer ball since the season ended up with an overtime loss to Berwick in the district playoffs. As point guard, the junior has been busy helping the basketball team into title contention again.

There will be time when the season is over to begin preparing for a final chance to add to the impressive totals on the soccer field.

Barber has 126 goals and 28 assists in a career that already has seen her earn first-team conference all-star honors three times and division Most Valuable Player recognition twice.

Throughout the first half Thursday, Barber dribbled into the heart of the Dallas defense, drawing extra attention to get open looks for her teammates.

“We usually look for that if they’re in help defense,” she said. “I like to pass rather than score.”

The way she scores on the soccer field led to Barber getting a little extra attention from several hundred basketball fans Thursday night.

By the way, this spring, she will run track.


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