A-K Valley high school sports week ahead: Week of Jan. 8, 2018
By: Doug Gulasy
Sunday, January 7, 2018 | 11:31 PM
• Coming off its first Section 1-4A win of the season, Deer Lakes girls basketball visits Freeport for another key contest. The Lancers (4-5, 1-2) overcame a slow start against Burrell on their way to winning their fourth game out of five. The host Yellowjackets (4-5, 2-1) stand in second place in the section by virtue of a 39-34 victory over Knoch.
• Freeport looks to bounce back from a slow start in Section 1-4A boys basketball as the Yellowjackets visit Yough in the makeup of a postponed game. The Yellowjackets (4-4, 0-2) last played Dec. 29, when they won their holiday tournament title. Yough (2-9, 0-3) has lost three in a row and is getting outscored by 16 points per game.
• Leechburg catapulted into the WPIAL boys basketball playoffs last season when Springdale dropped its section finale.
Now the Dynamos look for some payback as they host the Blue Devils in a Section 1-2A game. A pair of talented guards will be on display: Christian Hack leads Leechburg (7-2, 2-1), and Mike Zolnierczyk leads Springdale (5-4, 1-2).
• Winners of four consecutive games, Valley looks to move up in the Section 1-4A standings with a game at Derry (4-3, 2-0). The Vikings (6-2, 3-1) outscored three teams by more than 30 points during their current streak. Derry, which hasn't played since Dec. 28, has lost two in a row.
• Apollo-Ridge and South Allegheny are seeking their first Section 3-3A victory of the season in a game at South Allegheny. The visiting Vikings (4-6, 0-1) last played Dec. 28, a rout of Evangel Heights in the consolation game of the Apollo Trust Company holiday tournament. South Allegheny has won six of eight games and is allowing 48.5 points per game.
• One of the WPIAL's most successful girls basketball rebuilding projects from recent years meets up with a team going through its own restocking process as Leechburg visits Highlands. The Class 2A No. 4 Blue Devils (7-2) start five seniors from a state playoff team. Highlands (1-8) looks to continue to grow with a roster heavy on underclassmen.
• Apollo-Ridge faces a difficult nonsection girls basketball test, as the Vikings host Class A No. 1 Winchester Thurston. Megan Ost, a Carlow recruit, averages a double-double for Apollo-Ridge (5-4). Gia Thorpe and Ayanna Townsend lead the Bears (3-2), last season's WPIAL Class A champion.
• Deer Lakes boys basketball has won four of its past five games, and the Lancers get a nonsection test at Washington. The Prexies (5-2) limit teams to 46.3 points per game, but Deer Lakes (6-4) is averaging 70.8 points in its victories.
• Another key Section 1-4A girls basketball game as Burrell (3-6, 1-3) hosts Freeport. The Bucs have dropped four of their past five games and look to avoid falling too far behind in the section race. Freeport hopes to solidify its position.
• Apollo-Ridge looks to pull an upset in Section 3-3A girls basketball as the Vikings travel to face No. 1 Bishop Canevin (7-2, 4-0). The Crusaders' two losses came in out-of-state tournaments. Apollo-Ridge's most recent section game ended in a final-minute victory.
• Highlands and Armstrong's boys basketball teams make up a postponed Section 3-5A contest. The front-line tandem of Johnny Crise and Shawn Erceg are averaging a double-double each for the Golden Rams (6-3, 0-1). Armstrong (5-5, 1-0) has a down-low force of its own in senior Nate Baillie.
• Two of the hotter teams in Section 1-4A boys basketball meet as Deer Lakes hosts Valley. Both advanced to the WPIAL playoffs a season ago. Both teams have topped 60 points six times.
• Kiski Area began the week seeking its first victory of the season, and the Cavaliers will host Highlands in a Section 3-5A contest. Ryne Wallace leads Kiski Area (0-10, 0-2) in scoring. Point guard Luke Cochran is averaging around 15 points for Highlands.
• The always-entertaining Section 3-6A boys basketball race features a matchup between Fox Chapel and Latrobe. The host Foxes (8-3, 2-2) are getting healthier and have won three games in a row. Bryce Butler leads high-scoring Latrobe (8-3, 3-1).
• Subzero wind chills forced the postponement of the Jeannette-Leechburg Section 2-2A boys basketball game last week, but the Jayhawks and Blue Devils will make up the key contest Saturday. Anthony Johnson and Robert Kennedy lead Jeannette (5-1, 2-0).
Week in review
Fab five: It was a banner day for Alle-Kiski Valley wrestlers Saturday at the 65th Westmoreland County Coaches Association tournament. Five A-K Valley wrestlers won titles: Two of them, Kiski Area senior Danny Starr and junior Darren Miller, won their second; Kiski Area senior Noah Levett, Burrell senior Corey Christie and Valley junior David Schuffert took home their first. Kiski Area rolled to its third consecutive WCCA team title, and Christie was named most outstanding wrestler after knocking off the top two seeds in the 152-pound bracket to win.