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THE FAB FIVE: Moniteau Rolling Into Season With a Quintet of Junior Starters Eager to Take Game to Next Level

WEST SUNBURY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Abbey Jewart is giving a serious answer to a serious question when her eyes dart to her left.

Then she lets out a giggle.

(Pictured above, from left: Moniteau juniors Abbey Jewart, Catherine Kelly, Davina Pry, Kendall Sankey and Allie Pry)

Two of her teammates on the Moniteau girls basketball team, Kendall Sankey and Allie Pry, are staring at her and smiling, distracting her with chuckles of their own.

Jewart shows amazing poise under the pressure.

“I think we have a lot of potential this year,” Jewart says, looking at her teammates and laughing again.

But the talent Moniteau has assembled is no laughing matter. It’s also an unusual blend with five juniors who have been playing together since they were in kindergarten projected to start.

Jewart, Catherine Kelly, Davina Pry, Sankey and Allie Pry can be a formidable five-some this season after getting a taste of high-pressure games at the end of last season as sophomores.

“I mean, it’s a blast because we’ve been best friends since day one,” Jewart said. “We get to have fun on and off the court. It’s just great chemistry.”

It’s been cultivated from an early age.

The five got plenty of time playing together over years, last year in particular.

This year, all of them are looking to raise their games — and in the process the team — to a whole new level.

They each bring a different skill set and strengths to the table.

Jewart, the point guard, can get hot from the outside, is a good passer and handles the ball well; Davina Pry is the inside presence and has been working on being more aggressive in the paint; Sankey is healthy again after missing the beginning of the season last year following knee surgery and brings Moniteau a consistent rebounder; Allie Pry was the spark off the bench in 2021-22, but will see her role expand.

And then there is Kelly, who started from the first day she walked into the gym and is one of the best all-around players in the Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference.

She led the Warriors in scoring at 14.6 per game.

Kelly did it by slashing to the hoop and hitting from the outside. She wants to add a mid-range shot to her game this season to become even more deadly.

“People know I can shoot from the outside and get to the rim,” Kelly said. “I think having a middle game will really help me elevate my game. It’s a lot of repetition, putting up a lot of shots, getting shots up off the dribble and off a dribble move.”

Opponents have set out to stop Kelly more and more. That’s something she will also have to deal with this season.

“She’s able to take some contact and finish strong,” said Moniteau coach Dee Arblaster. “That’s been one of the things she’s really worked on in the offseason. She has knowledge of the game and she’s a calming presence.”

Davina Pry was the second-leading scorer last season for the Warriors at 8.8 points per game to go with 6.7 boards. She’s looking to see those numbers rise this season.

The younger sister of Aslyn Pry, who was a two-sport standout in basketball and volleyball at Moniteau and is excelling in both sports again at Butler County Community College, Davina has a different style than Aslyn.

She wants to be just as impactful.

“I think it’s nice (to be compared to Aslyn), but I want to try to be my own player,” Davina said. “It’s nice having her around to help me playing one-on-one at home. She shows me some of the stuff she does.”

The Prys have their own full basketball court, complete with lights, in their backyard. Allie Pry, a cousin, frequents the court, as do the other juniors.

“I love going over there,” Allie said.

“They come over a lot to play, so it’s fun,” Davina said. “We can play any time with the lights. We get a big group of people. It definitely helps a lot.”

“We get told, ‘Don’t dive on the concrete,’” Sankey adds, laughing. “Someone always does. Lots of roadburn.”

Sankey is used to playing with pain.

She hopes she has put that behind her now.

Sankey made a big impact when she returned last season, averaging seven points per game and leading the team with 6.8 rebounds per contest.

“I feel personally that my leg is the strongest it’s even been,” Sankey said. “I definitely think my confidence is back where it was.”

The team has had to work this offseason on getting some of its confidence back.

Last year was a bit of a roller coaster — understandable with so many sophomores getting so much playing time.

Moniteau went 11-11, losing to Punxsutawney, 53-24, in the first round of the District 9 Class 3A playoffs.

“Let’s not talk about that game,” Jewart says, chuckling. “That’s a sore subject.”

“I think it definitely showed us we needed to buckle down and focus on playing better defense,” Kelly said. “We really didn’t play very good man defense. We need to talk more. (Punxsutawney) killed us from the corners.”

Moniteau dropped down to Class 2A this season.

But so did Redbank Valley, the odds-on favorite to win the D9 title again.

“I think we’re looking at it differently this season,” Jewart said. “I think we know we can come back. We’ve done it before and I think it’ll be better.”

There is a lot of buzz around Moniteau this season because of the wealth of experience the Warriors bring back — they are kind of a dark horse.

Arblaster, though, would rather embrace the underdog role.

“Redbank is the one,” Arblaster said. “We have a lot of juniors who played a lot of minutes. They just need to take it to the next level. It’s nice, but I want to be the underdog. I want to be the unexpected team. We have solid kids. You can’t ask for much more.”