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THE CORE FOUR: The Quartet of Izzy Bond, Kira Bonanno, Mylee Harmon and Addy Bond Has Powered Redbank Valley to Yet Another Successful Season

CLARION, Pa. (EYT/D9) — A team that suffers together, stays together.

And wins together, it seems.

There are days of agony for the “Core Four” on the Redbank Valley girls basketball team — senior Izzy Bond, juniors Kira Bonanno and Mylee Harmon and sophomore Addy Bond. It’s that time of the year when their bodies are aching, muscles seizing, bruises peppering knees and elbows, forearms and shins.

(Pictured above, the Redbank Valley “Core Four,” from left, of Addy Bond, Izzy Bond, Kira Bonanno and Mylee Harmon on the bench at the end of a 45-31 win over Clarion in the KSAC tournament semifinals)

To mitigate those strains and pulls and bruises and contusions, they climb into an icy bath.

It’s not the most pleasurable thing in the world.

“We shed a couple of tears,” Harmon said. “It really is mind over matter. It’s so cold, but you eventually go numb and the next day you feel refreshed.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

It’s worth it in the long run for the quartet.

They are the iron women for the team, rarely coming off the court. Grinding out wins, each having a well-defined role.

It was the same for them this fall on the volleyball court. They never left a match for the Bulldogs then, either. That has been carried over to this winter.

They have spent a lot of time together over the years, and particularly this school year.

“We have our moments,” Harmon said. “But we are a family. You’re gonna fight with your family, but you love each other.”

With Addy and Izzy, they literally are family. The chemistry is clear and has permeated the four and the rest of the team — even through times when they were sick of looking at each other’s faces.

“It’s already been a long season,” she added. “We started in the summer traveling to camps and it’s always been a goal of ours to at least win a few games in the state playoffs and make a run.”

 They have some big goals and the first step was taken on Thursday night with a 45-31 win over Clarion in the first round of the Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference tournament.

When the season started, the four were well aware of how important they were going to be to the success of the team this season.

Their roles were quickly defined.

Bonanno has been a reliable force in the paint, averaging 10 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

Addy Bond has elevated her game after being a key bench player last year as a freshman. She is putting up 14.7 points, 3.3 steals and 2.6 assists per night.

Her sister, Izzy, has been a Swiss army knife for the Bulldogs, doing things that don’t always show up in the box score. She also has healthy averages of 7.8 points and 7.9 boards.

“I just kind of float around and do what needs to be done,” Izzy said. “I do the dirty work underneath and sometimes Mylee will hit me for a 3-pointer every once in a while.”

Then there’s Harmon, who is the engine that powers the Redbank attack. The KSAC MVP is averaging 18.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 7.4 steals and six assists.

“I feel like we all have our separate roles and that really helps the team get where we need to go,” Bonanno said. “If everyone does their thing, it just makes us better.”

All four made the all-KSAC team this season.

That speaks to the impact all have made.

“I’m super proud,” Addy Bond said. “Not only for me, but for our whole team. We work great together. We all try to do our best to get the win for our team.”

The wins have come even with a challenging schedule.

Redbank Valley coach Chris Edmonds sought to beef up the slate, setting up matchups with more challenging non-conference teams. It led to some losses, but the hope is it will help the Bulldogs now that the postseason is here.

“We went outside our comfort zone and sometimes traveled two or three hours away,” Izzy Bond said. “It was just a good experience for us.”

The “Core Four” have also been buoyed by freshman guard Elaina Carrico.

“I think it all really started with volleyball when she came up and was the starting setter,” Izzy Bond said. “That’s a very stressful position, and she stepped in and did an amazing job. That chemistry has translated into basketball.”

Redbank Valley will try to climb another rung on their ladder of goals when it takes on Karns City for the KSAC tourney title at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Tippin Gymnasium on the campus of PennWest Clarion.

Then it’s on to the District 9 playoffs where the Bulldogs hope to win their fourth in five years.

“We just need to stay focused,” Harmon said. “There’s a lot of outside noise. You have haters in everything you do. You also have supporters, so you have to focus on that.”

Harmon seems to take the brunt of the chants from opposing fan bases. She’s used to it.

And just like any good sister, Harmon has at least three of them who support her.

“Oh, we have her back,” Izzy Bond said.

“I think she does better with the hate,” Bonanno added. “It feeds her and makes her do better.

“We are together,” Bonanno added. “I think that’s really going to help us. Some teams have teammates who don’t get together and that can really bring a team down. But with us, even if we have some hard bumps, we usually get over it.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.