Mazzante's return to Hershey for state finals brought back a lot of memories; and not all were good

The former Montoursville High and Penn State star worked the state basketball finals for PCN.

While playing at Penn State, Kelly Mazzante scored the most points by a male or female in Big Ten history — 2,919.

She went on to play in the WNBA for parts of seven seasons and was a member of two WNBA title teams.

She even played in Russia, Hungary and for a USA World team.

But when she returned to Hershey last weekend to work with Steve Degler and the rest of Service Electric production crew that provided the statewide PIAA girls basketball championship coverage for PCN, Mazzante's mind couldn't help but wander back to high school.

One of the biggest stars in Pennsylvania girls history, Mazzante made back-to-back appearances in Hershey in 1999 and 2000 with her Montoursville team.

Both times the trip ended in disappointment as Blackhawk beat Montoursville by 15 each year.

So, even though she finished her high school career with 3,270 points, the fourth most of any female in state history, Mazzante didn't get what she wanted the most — a state championship.

And some of those negative emotions resurfaced last weekend, showing once again that the passion of high school sports never leaves you.

"It stays with you," Mazzante said between games at the Giant Center last weekend. "We got here twice and never won, and those memories truly do last forever."

Mazzante said it would be emotional to work the Blackhawk game in Saturday night's 3A final, a game the Cougars won 51-43 over Archbishop Carroll for another state title.

Regardless of the vibes that seeing Blackhawk stirred, Mazzante handled the broadcast with her typical professionalism.

Degler, who works with people from all over and does a variety of sports, was impressed with Mazzante. So was Mike Zambelli and Jim Wills, who did the halftime and postgame shows for PCN.

"She was a pleasure to work with," Wills said. "For all her success, she remains very humble."

Mazzante has been out of basketball for about 21/2 years, and while she misses it, she said it was the "right time to retire."

"There are certain things I miss and certain things I don't, but I love being around the game and I love being in a gym," she said. "I am doing a lot of training with kids. It's still my passion."

Mazzante said that 14 years after her last high school game and a decade after she left Penn State, the game of women's basketball remains strong.

"I think the sport is in a great state and has a lot of upside to it with the WNBA and European basketball offering a future for the high school and college players," Mazzante said. "Overall, the kids are athletic and they're competing and that's what is most important."

She also believes the Penn State program, which has won three consecutive Big Ten championships and will face Stanford on Sunday in the Sweet 16 after routing Florida 83-61 in the Bryce Jordan Center on Tuesday night, is in good hands.

"Coquese Washington has done a real good job with the program," Mazzante said.

In terms of PIAA basketball, Mazzante said she was fortunate to play in a community like Montoursville where everybody got behind the team.

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