Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Perseverance led Ponzani to Senior Shootout

Several injuries could have ended the basketball career of Kirtland senior Deanna Ponzani. Instead, the 5-foot-8 center gets to close out her high school playing days on her own terms in the 2016 Ohio Varsity Senior Shootout presented by

Ponzani’s only goal for the game is to keep from passing the basketball to Kirtland teammates, Claire Neibecker and Taylor Somodji, who will play on the opposing team.

“There’s a 99.9-percent chance I’m going to do it at least once,” Ponzani said.

Ponzani, also a standout soccer player for the Hornets, will suit up for the Army All-Stars in the all-star event that serves as an official fundraiser for The Wounded Warrior Project.

“I'm super excited and I'm glad that I have the opportunity to play in one last game,” she said. “I'm honored to have been chosen to play for such a worthy cause.”

Although the Senior Shootout is the final chapter in her competitive basketball career she is excited to play with some of her opponents throughout the years.

“I'm sad that it's over,” she said. “I always looked forward to practice, games and bus rides with my teammates. I'm looking forward to playing with girls I've played against throughout the season. It will be fun to play with people I've never played with before.”

Ponzani learned a lot from overcoming her many injuries.

“I'll always remember that no matter the obstacles that get in your way, nothing can beat perseverance and the support of your teammates and coaches,” she said. “I'll never forget the support and patience I got from my team after my surgeries when I had to learn to shoot a basketball again.”

Now, all she has to remember, at least on Sunday, is to keep the ball away from Claire and Taylor.

The Senior Shootout begins at 5:00 p.m. with the boys’ all-star game. The girls will follow at 7:00 p.m. Click here to purchase presale tickets, which provide admission to both games. 

Steve Hare
Steve Hare is the Chagrin Valley Conference's Sports Information Director. He also created and publishes, an online publication dedicated to providing hyperlocal coverage to area high school athletic programs. Hare began covering high school sports for the Lake County News Herald in 1997. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.

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