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Anile is the essence of a point guard

February 20, 2012
By MIKE MATHISON - Sports editor ( , The Herald-Star

WEIRTON - Isabella Anile has been starting at point guard for the Weirton Madonna girls basketball team since the day she stepped foot on the hardwood as a freshman.

She is now minutes away - so to speak - from unlacing the shoes for the final time.

"I feel like I've only been here for two years because all the girls in our class have been playing together for the past two years and that's who I really like to play with," said Anile, affectionately known as Bella. "Our junior year is when we were starters and got to play together full time."

Article Photos

Isabella Anile

Nothing against her other teammates, mind you, but there is a special bond Anile has with those in her class. After all, they've been together since fifth grade.

"We've been together for eight years, so that's all I know, that's what I'm used to," she said.

"Being together that long has helped us a lot on the court. We just know where each other is going to be and our chemistry is so much better because of it.

"Practicing together all the time, playing in tournaments, traveling together is how we became friends. When we got to high school here it just became automatic among us."

Those seniors joining Anile are Sara Lyons, Stephanie Magnone, Melanie Mazur, Lisa Parkins and Kaitlyn Conner.

"This has been a bittersweet year for a lot of reasons," she said. "It's the last year we all get to play basketball together because we're all seniors, but we all haven't really been on the court together because of all the injuries we've had.

"These are the girls I've been playing together with my whole life. I'm going to miss it and them. It's a different game without them.

"We considered last year out build-up year to this year. We knew that this year was our year. We came into the first practice and we all were ready to go. And then all of this started happening."

Magnone and Mazur are out with knee injuries, Conner injured her knee and now is out with an ankle injury - leaving Anile, Lyons and Parkins.

"We have three down and three left," said Anile. "We know no one feels bad for us. We're still winning games and we still have to get ready for sectionals.

"It's terrible looking over and seeing those three on crutches because they are your friends and you want them on the court with you."

The Blue Dons are 36-13 during the past two years.

"We have a great core of seniors," said Madonna coach Don Ogden. "I started four years ago when they were freshmen and you sure couldn't ask for a better group to start your coaching career with.

"For me, Bella brings to the table some headaches for me - and that's probably one of her strongest qualities. She's strong-willed and determined. If she can't do something, she's going to keep at it until she succeeds.

"She pushes everybody else and she does that by pushing herself. She's smart. She knows the game. She has really good game management.

"This is just a great group of seniors."

Anile surpassed the 1,000-point barrier during the Wheeling Hospital Ohio Valley Athletic Conference championship game with Morgantown Trinity Christian and was honored before the city championship game in the Bill Barrett Gymnasium a week ago.

"I knew I was close to getting 1,000," she said. "I wanted to get there, but if it wasn't going to happen, I wasn't going to force it. I wasn't going to be selfish and shoot just to reach it. I would rather get three points a game and win than 20 and be close to 1,000.

"The 1,000 is a good goal, but I'd rather win."

Being a true point guard, the sweet assist is far better than netting a three or a runner in the lane.

"I'd much rather have the sweet dish," she said with a smile. "I love when I drive the lane and you dish off and no one knows where the ball is. That's the best part of being a point guard.

"My game is driving and dishing. That's what I've done my whole life and that's what I love to do. Passing is instinct for me. I see where everybody is and I just know where they're going to be. We've all worked so much together that I just know"

She has also hit her fair share of teammates in the head with a pass.

"Oh yeah - multiple times," Anile said with another big smile and laugh. "You always have to look for the ball. It was their fault and I told them 'you have to pay attention.' I think they've all been hit a few times."

She has had to work hard on her shooting over the years.

"I didn't used to shoot that much from the outside, so I've had to work on my outside shooting," she said. "I didn't really start shooting threes until this year.

"My game has been lay-ups and foul shots."

Anile hurt her shoulder in the third game of the season and went to therapy for a while.

"I went to therapy for a few days, but then I said 'I don't have time for this I have to get to practice,'" she said laughing.

As the Blue Dons prepare for Tuesday's home sectional game, the point guard who wants to go to med school reflected on the past four years.

"This has been the best part of high school," Anile remarked. "All my friends are here and I love playing the game. I especially love playing the game with them."

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